DENVER (Sept. 21) – Over the next few weeks, travelers passing through Denver International Airport might instead find themselves at the doghouse.

Sixteen deluxe doghouses – complete with solar panels, heated floors, filtered-water systems and other amenities for pampered pooches – are on display through Oct. 9 as part of the Sustainable BARKitecture Doghouse Competition.

Fifteen of the structures were designed and built by local firms and are on display on the plaza between the Westin hotel and Jeppesen Terminal, just steps away from the commuter rail station. The other house, designed by DIA staff, sits inside the Great Hall of Jeppesen Terminal.

Panasonic donated the solar panels for the competition, and the firms donated their time and materials. These top-of-the-line doghouses, each of which carries a $5,000 price tag, integrate sustainable features such as rainwater collection, solar-powered lights and fans, and reclaimed materials. Some also feature treat dispensers for the dogs alongside charging stations and beer coolers for their owners.

Each house was designed with a special dog in mind. The Canine Airport Therapy Squad is a volunteer program that consists of 90 privately owned therapy dogs, who with their owners walk the airport and interact with travelers as a way to help relieve stress and anxiety. Sixteen of those dogs inspired the designs, which included consideration of their personalities and preferences. Some houses feature walls made completely of bright-green tennis balls, and others have ramps or space for digging. All of the chosen dogs and the rest of the CATS team can be viewed on the Fly Denver website.

DIA spokeswoman Daria Serna said the contest promotes the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.

“A lot of brainstorming and a lot of thought went into how to support that competition and project,” she said. “Our CATS dogs here at the airport were chosen to inspire the design and particular build of each doghouse.”

Solar Decathlon 2017, which will be held at East 61st Avenue and Peña Boulevard from Oct. 5-15, features student teams from 13 colleges around the country. They will design and build full-size, energy-efficient, solar-powered houses designed for humans.

Voting in the doghouse competition will continue online through Oct. 5, and an awards ceremony will be held at the airport plaza from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 9. Dog lovers can also take home the house of their dog’s dream through an online auction. All proceeds will support the Dumb Friends League’s mission to end pet homelessness and animal suffering.

By Joella Baumann, The Denver Post (TNS)