Was there a lot of additional cost and time involved in building green?
There wasn't a huge additional cost for the environmental upgrades—and many of those will pay for themselves in a few years
through savings on energy costs. Where the cost comes in is time spent planning and understanding what you're doing. We did
complete and file the paperwork for our LEED registration, but it wasn't an enormous amount of extra work.
Reception area: This room faces north so front office employees don't have to deal with excessive glare on computer screens.
How would you advise others who want to build green?
Work with designers or builders who know what they're doing and who use environmentally friendly systems during the process.
For example, what do they do with waste and wrappings? How do they reduce waste?
How do you perform due diligence on a firm that claims to be environmentally friendly?
Get your goals in mind, then interview different groups to make sure their views and goals match up with yours. Check references,
and see if any of these groups have worked with an organization such as the U.S. Green Building Council or Green Globes. Does
the firm have a dedicated staff member such as a LEED-certified point person? Once you're confident that it's a legitimate
group, then it's the firm's job to follow through.
Did you have to give up anything to be green?
We haven't had to sacrifice technology, and we're not in a log cabin or grass hut living off the land. One employee recently
said to me, "We're state of the art." In fact, being state of the art helps us to be more green through aspects such as paperless
recordkeeping and digital radiography. We do have to be smart about the materials and appliances we buy, but the Energy Star
designation helps us choose right.
How has the community responded to your building?
We're just now starting to earnestly market the green aspect of the project to the community. After a year, the staff is now
educated and familiar with all our environmentally friendly features. Team members can talk with clients knowledgeably about
what they've seen and experienced in the hospital and why it makes a difference. We're planning an open house to get the word
out: "We've built green, come and see what it's like."
If someone wants to be more green in practice, where do they start?
There are so many things you can do to be green—you don't have to be LEED-certified. Change your light bulbs from incandescent
to fluorescent and place lighting only where you need it. Check with Energy Star and local organizations about what they recommend.
If you want to do a larger overhaul, interview several firms and find someone who understands your environmental goals and
the way your building needs to function.
What resources do you recommend?
Great places to start are the U.S. Green Building Council (
http://usgbc.org/) and Energy Star (http://www.energystar.gov) Web sites. The Energy Star site features a tool where you can plug in the energy use from your own building and compare
it to similar buildings. There's no veterinary practice category because there are so few of us doing this, but I decided
we're most like a medical office. And we came out in the 92nd percentile for low energy consumption. There are also great
tools that show what you can do even if you're not building a new facility. When designing the landscaping, hire a LEED-certified
landscape architect and use only native plants in your design.