There is no cookie cutter design formula for a green dental office. Successful green design is accomplished through a collaborative process between you, the dental practice owner, and your design professionals. The process will require some early decisions on your part. To be ready to work with your design team, you should spend some time defining your values, business goals and vision for your green office and practice, confirming all are in alignment. In his book The Sustainable Business, author Jonathan T. Scott describes the seven P’s of waste reduction in a business context. This is a great framework for creating a document to help you express your unique vision and desires to help your design team prioritize sustainable design goals for your project. This valuable tool can also be referred to and modified as your practice takes shape and operates over time. Let’s take a look at the 7 P’s of waste reduction:
Preparation is the key to creating a solid footing for your green dental office. Document your vision and goals. Explore what sustainability has to offer. Dig into the financial aspect of sustainability as well and make it part of your business plan. Having documentation to share with your design team, staff, financiers and other stakeholders will help them understand and focus on your goals.
There are two components to preservation: Internal preservation is tracking your initiatives and progress toward your green goals. This information can be shared with your staff, patients and community. People take pride in knowing they are part of something having a positive impact. External preservation is staying ahead of the ever-changing trends and legislation.
Processes, Products and Production
Align your processes to your sustainable beliefs and vision. Look at your business model, patient demands, core capabilities and best dental practices as examples. Decide how you would like sustainability to be supported in each of these areas. There is no single right answer. It’s what is right for you and your practice.
Incorporate goods and materials that are free of toxins and unnecessary waste into your processes. Materials, energy and manpower are all assets to invest in and should be continuously reused when possible. Ask manufacturers to develop non-toxic products, if there are no options available right now. As a consumer, your opinion matters. Look at how products are transported and delivered to you. It’s okay to ask vendors to modify products, packaging or delivery method if it is currently wasteful.
Employees, stakeholders, patients and the community are important. Don’t waste them! Ongoing training and education for employees will keep them engaged, relevant and challenged. Educating your stakeholders, patients and the community about your initiatives, sustainable and other, will let them know you are a steward of the environment and interested in the health of the community.
Place is where you provide services and the work gets done. Your clinic needs to express your brand and vision for your practice while supporting your business and sustainability goals. The importance of sharing your sustainable/green goals with your real estate and design professionals can’t be overstated. The more we know, the better we can serve you and provide appropriate solutions.
Selecting the location is a big step in making your vision for a green dental office a reality. The site has an impact on sustainability and there are other important factors to consider when choosing a location to practice. For more information of how your real estate professional can help, see this Patterson Today article.