Energy Efficient Design Options for Dental Offices

by Beau Peters

Starting and maintaining a dental practice is an exciting step in one’s career but it can also be a huge undertaking. There is a significant deal of planning when it comes to a practice’s design and utility. Additionally, as the concern over climate change continues, many are looking to incorporate more eco-friendly practices and designs into their dental office.

Whether your dental office is up-and-coming or already established, the utilization of more energy-efficient design processes and equipment is a great step towards eco-dentistry. From eco-friendly building materials to alternative energy sources to designing your practice to capture more natural light, there are a number of ways to reduce your carbon footprint and still provide superb care to patients.

Getting Started

One of the first tasks on your to-do list for your new practice is starting the contracting and bidding process. It’s imperative, especially as an eco-friendly dentist, that you and the general contractor you hire are on the same page before taking on renovations or building a new office. This can help you minimize costs and materials and allow you to save time.

Generally, during the bidding process, you should receive a bid package that includes things such as:

  • Material costs
  • Step-by-step time frame
  • Necessary resources and transportation
  • Staffing requirements and outsourcing information (if any)

If a potential contractor fails to provide the above, you could potentially find yourself in a tough situation later down the road. Granted, there might be additional costs or resources as construction pushes forward but having an agreed-upon plan in place will save you from future headaches and keep construction on track.

It’s also worth researching and hiring a contractor who regularly takes on eco-conscious projects and runs an eco-friendly business themselves. Not only will their expertise come in handy if you come across any hidden issues or barriers during construction, but they will operate with sustainable principles in mind, which can make your entire project more eco-friendly.

Window of Opportunities

Windows are an easy, practical way to let in more natural light. They’re also an affordable way to break up boring, sterile walls and lower your office’s energy consumption. However, even windows need a little help to be more energy efficient.

Air leaks can let in cold or hot air, as well as excessive moisture. This can offset any energy-saving benefits of using more natural light as your office will have to work harder to maintain its internal temperature. To get the most out of your windows, you need to make sure they seal firmly. This can be done easily by giving window jambs a deep clean to clear out any debris that could be preventing them from completely closing.

If you’re renovating an old space, it’s also recommended that you find and fix window frame leaks by sealing them with foam or caulk. Finally, don’t overlook curtains and blinds, especially in the winter months. Curtains help reduce the amount of airflow over your window’s cold glass, keeping your office warmer by reducing the amount of heat loss.

If you’ve got the budget for it, you could also replace old or ruined windows with an eco-friendly alternative like reflective low-emissivity glass windows. The coating on low-e glass helps to minimize the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light passing through windows, improving insulation, without having to sacrifice important natural light.

Getting Technical

In an ever-growing, tech-based world, running an eco-dentistry means you’re following innovation in technology. High-tech products tend to offer a number of eco-friendly properties and solutions compared to their predecessors. One such example we can look at is X-rays.

Digital X-ray technology uses 80% less radiation than traditional X-rays and eliminates the need for toxic X-ray film. Considering how vital X-rays are in a dental office, upgrading to digital X-ray technology can reduce your office’s carbon footprint.

Another innovative and eco-friendly example is sterilization technology. Steam sterilization is not only time-efficient and dependable, but it eliminates toxic chemical sterilization vapors, reduces hazardous waste, and is reusable. Technology is also here to help in smaller ways.

It’s safe to say that most of your patients have a smart device of some kind with them at all times. Utilize this and reduce your impact on the environment by going paperless wherever you can. Call or email patients about appointments, prescriptions, and invoicing rather than sending out paper reminders. Switching to a virtual office system for patient charting, billing, and radiography is also a great idea for your dental practice.

With so many new ways to be a more eco-conscious and sustainable business, becoming an active steward of good health for both the planet and your patients is easier now than ever. With the right motivation, planning, and commitment, you can reduce your dental office’s impact on the environment while helping others.

About the Author

Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.