All Systems Go … Green!

As you are thinking about your green dental office, you may be wondering, “How will I know if we are doing the project right to achieve our green design goals?” There are several rating systems in place to help you design spaces to minimize the impact on the environment. A few are as follows:

All of these rating systems can help inspire you and your design team to find credible and sustainable design solutions. By designing to an established rating system, you can feel confident that good environmental practice is an integral part of your office design. Let’s take a high level look at two of the systems: LEED and Green Guide for Healthcare™.


LEED, which stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”, is the most recognizable and highly used sustainable design rating system in the United States. LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). A project can be LEED certified by earning points through following guidelines to meet environmental design benchmarks, which are higher than typical building regulations in the following categories: Location and Transportation, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation. There is a monetary cost to registering and certifying a project in the LEED system and projects that earn a minimum threshold of points are classified as “Certified.” Meeting higher point thresholds certifies projects at “Silver”, “Gold” or “Platinum” levels.

Green Guide for Healthcare™

Two nonprofit organizations, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) and Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems (CMPBS), worked together to develop Green Guide for Healthcare™(GGHC). GGHC has credit categories like LEED. At the time GGHC was drafted, the LEED system wasn’t very adaptable to the unique conditions of many healthcare projects.  Because a special system was needed for healthcare, a synergy was established between LEED and GGHC that allowed the GGHC to use the LEED rating system as a platform for its system. Many of the categories and credits are the same as LEED, but unlike LEED, GGHC projects are self-certified. A very interesting and useful tool provided in the GGHC program is each credit has specific health issues that are addressed by the credit. It gives a clear “why” for achieving a credit, which can be related to on a health level.

The Choice Is Yours

In my previous blog entry, Getting Ready for Green, you read about the 7-Ps of waste reduction in business. Take a look at the different rating systems as part of the first “P”: Preparation. Not only will you learn more about the rating systems, you may find specific sustainable design goals that resonate with your vision for your practice and the other 6 “Ps”. I especially find GGHC helpful for the nonprofessional to use for this process because of its references to health issues.

The decision to certify your building or space in a sustainable design rating system is completely yours as the dental practice owner. Whether you choose to pay for a third-party certification process like LEED; self-certify; or select some credits important to your goals to implement using best sustainable design practices, your professional design team will work with you to develop appropriate solutions to meet the requirements. Documenting the credit goals and how they were achieved is important in all cases. This is a milestone in reaching your vision and goals for a green dental practice and a very important chapter of the story you will share with your staff, patients and community in the future.

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