Right now you might be asking yourself, “What is a ‘green’ dental office and why is it important?” Simply put, a green dental office is more than just the color of your chair—it is about seeking sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of your office to help the environment green dental office
This is important for dental practitioners for two main reasons. For one thing, all medical professionals are bound to the same ethical code to “Do No Harm.” This applies not only to the care you provide to your patients, but also to the impact your practice has on the environment. Secondly, green dental practices reduce waste, saving you time and money as you set a positive example for your community.
Dental Office Lighting
Among the electronic equipment in a dental office, your lighting is probably the biggest expense. Keeping your office well-lit at all times is important both for ambiance and patient care, but there’s no reason it should break the bank. Replacing incandescent lights with compact fluorescents is the simplest way to reduce costs and start going green. Studies have shown that CFLs use up to 75% less electricity and last 8 times longer than incandescent lights of comparable brightness. In just a year, this can mean big savings in utility bills.
Dental Office Plumbing
Water is another big utility cost in a dental office, as well as being a dire resource in many places in the world. Many dentists are switching from wet to dry vacuums as a way to reduce water use and provide better dental care at the same time. The difference? Most wet-vacs use ½ gallon of fresh, clean drinking water per minute per horsepower. This comes out to an average of 200,000 gallons per year in a medium-sized dental practice. Using dry-vac technology instead can save you over $2,000/year in water expenses alone, and they can be installed for the same cost as a wet-vac.
Dental Office Ventilation, Windows, and Insulation
Heating and air-conditioning use lots of gas, electricity, and water to regulate the air in your office. No one would ask you to go without these necessary amenities, but there’s always room for improvement. Installing “green windows” can go a long way towards reducing these costs by retaining heat in colder seasons, and reflecting it in the summer. Double-paned windows with gas filling, coupled low-emissivity glazing can be strategically placed in your office to control heat flow during the day. Although the initial installation costs are high, replacing your windows and using better wall insulation can reduce your heating bills dramatically.
Dental Office Waste Management
Paper and plastic are finite resources on this planet. From contracts to letters to memos and newsletters, dental offices still go through a lot of paper these days. Same goes for plastic from autoclave bags, bibs, and more. Are you recycling these materials, or simply throwing them out? Something this simple is also easy to overlook, even though it makes a big impact on the environment.
It Ain’t Easy Going Green – Building Dental Office
Kermit the Frog was right about one thing: going green is a process, not a destination. So many practices and processes in our industry are wasteful in ways that you can’t do anything about. Even the suggestions listed above are relatively superficial ways to get started making a difference. But the important thing to takeaway from all this is that you can do better, both for yourself, your patients, and your planet.