Hanging with Hafen: It's easy being green—and lean
[Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of monthly columns from veterinary architect Mark Hafen, AIA, co-owner of Animal Arts in Boulder, Colo.]
My hero isn’t Gandhi, Einstein, or even Al Gore—it’s Kermit the Frog. I think he’s uniquely relevant in this day and age. Specifically, he’s green and lean, and these days, that counts for a lot.
Kermit sings, “It’s not easy being green.” I think he’s right, but maybe not in the specific way he was thinking. Respecting and valuing the environment—or being “green”—can be hard, but it does make sense. For example, in a veterinary clinic, you can:
> Use linoleum instead of sheet vinyl PVC flooring (linoleum is made from renewable materials).
But I think “green” is even more important when you couple it with “lean.” With the up-and-down performance of the economy, it’s going to be increasingly important that veterinarians develop strategies to sustain and grow their businesses even during tough times.
The answer is being lean. Human healthcare recently discovered leanness, as evidenced by Toyota’s production system for eliminating waste. In human healthcare, “lean” means “the analysis of operations to reduce wasteful non-standard procedures, eliminate non-value activities and in the process, reduce defects.” But I think it’s important to define “lean” not as a reactive stance but as a proactive strategy: How can you use your available resources more effectively, including personnel, space, materials, and even technology. Here are a few ways you can do just that:
All of these lean money-saving strategies are also green, because when you design a more effective facility—or, for that matter, when you use an existing facility more effectively—you save on construction costs, materials, and utility costs. Ultimately, I think Kermit would way that in the new business environment we’re living in, you’ve got to be lean and green.
Veterinary architect Mark Hafen, AIA, is a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and co-owner of Animal Arts in Boulder, Colo.