Are you thinking about operating a green dental practice? Are you considering constructing or remodeling your office using sustainable design practices? What does this entail and why would you want to do it? This is the first in a series of blog entries that will get you started in visioning your green practice environment.
Serious environmental issues are in the news every day, compelling many of us to look at our impact on the environment. Caring for the environment is an admirable reason to pursue operating your dental practice in a green or sustainable manner. The great news is there are powerful, positive business reasons for making green choices for your practice!
Reason #1: Reduced operating costs
Wouldn’t it be great if you could save on operating expenses while not reducing the quality of dental care you are providing? Well, you can. Selecting energy efficient equipment and lighting should save your practice money on utilities over time. Although these items can cost more at the time of purchase, over their usable life, they can save you much more on utility costs than the premium you paid at acquisition.
A paperless office utilizing digital imaging will save money on the purchase of paper, toner and processing chemicals. With less waste production, there is less waste disposal to pay for, including hazardous chemicals and lead foil disposal. Sending information electronically, including digital images to insurance companies, other dentists or specialists, is much quicker and more efficient than sending actual films. Space reduction is a potential benefit because less space is needed for paper patient files and supply storage.
Reason #2: Grants, loans and tax incentives
Choosing green for your practice and office can give you access to grants and favorable financing programs. There are also tax incentives for installing energy saving building systems, lighting and other eco-friendly initiatives. The programs offered are changing all the time and are commonly offered by government agencies on the federal, state and local levels. Utility companies often offer rebates for installing efficient equipment too.
To find applicable tax incentives, ask your tax advisor for guidance or you can visit the Tax Incentives Assistance Project website. For funding programs, see what the U.S. Department of Energy or the Small Business Administration (SBA) may have to offer. Don’t overlook your city or county; there can be valuable programs available at this level too.
Reason #3: Employee satisfaction and pride
Working in a sustainably designed office incorporating green dental practices can be inspirational to employees. Share your green goals with your staff. It engages them and creates a sense of pride knowing they are employed in a practice that cares about the natural environment, the community and them. Make it easy for employees to be involved. You may find that they bring new ideas for opportunities to reduce waste, improve processes and save money.
Reason #4: Brand enhancement and patients
If you are aware of environmental issues, so are your patients. Many consumers are seeking to spend their dollars on products and services from organizations that care about the well-being of the environment and the community. Sharing your green initiatives with patients and potential patients will enhance your brand in a positive way by showing that you are interested in more than making a profit.
A bright green future is possible for your practice. To find additional information on greening your business, the SBA has a Green Business Guide that provides information on many topics, including grants and loans to aid you in building a successful green dental practice.