5 more ways to make your dream practice green


Here are five more earth-friendly steps to make your dream practice a green one.

1. Reduce water consumption. Mark Hafen, AIA, a senior partner with Animal Arts/Gates Hafen Cochrane in Boulder, Colo., suggests you use:

  • an on-demand water heater in lieu of a conventional water heater tank

  • and Xeriscape landscaping to reduce water consumption with drought-resistant plant species. "Be sure to work with a landscape architect because what works in one location may not be practical for another," says Hafen.

2. Find earth-friendly flooring. "Consider using stained concrete or linoleum that doesn't release formaldehyde. And look for natural-based instead of chemical-based flooring," says Dr. Michelle Chappell, owner of Dogtor's Day Off Veterinary Relief Services, who's building a green hospital in Overland Park, Kan. Hafen also suggests polypropylene-based carpeting, which is made from recycled milk cartons, and flooring made of natural materials like rubber or linoleum.

3. Use nontoxic insulation materials. "For instance, instead of fiberglass, use cellulose—a newspaper-based product—for building insulation and sheathing," says Hafen.

4. Think about the small things. "Installing low-flushing adapters is an easy way to conserve water," says Dr. Chappell. And use citrus-based cleaner to decrease chemical exposure to your patients and staff. "Restrict the use of strong chemical disinfectants, which can be a respiratory irritants, to areas of heavy contamination," she says. More considerations:

  • Purchase digital radiograph processors so you don't need processing chemicals.

  • Use digital—not mercury—thermometers.

5. Don't lose sight of the big picture. "On the large scale, remodeling an existing building, or your existing practice will typically take less material—and cost less—than building new. "If you do build new," says Hafen, "try to incorporate flexible, multi-purpose spaces. This approach lets you build smaller, use fewer construction materials, and minimize long-term operational and utility costs."

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