By Alison Werner
While this issue marks my first as editor of Orthodontic Products, it is actually the 28th issue I have worked on. Since 2010, I have served as the associate editor for the magazine, and, in that time, I have had the opportunity to learn about the intricacies of running an orthodontic practice—from product and treatment options to designing the perfect practice space. When it comes down to it, the business of running an orthodontic practice comes down to choices.
Every orthodontist sets out to design a practice that features the ideal patient environment—from an inviting reception room to state-of-the-art technology in the patient bay. And then there are those orthodontists who make the choice to design a practice that is also good for the environment.
When Marc Allen, DDS, MS, built his new practice in Huntersville, NC, he committed himself to building an environmentally friendly space—from the floors made of recycled materials to the solar panels on the roof. But while "green building" is increasingly common in the United States, green commercial spaces, like orthodontic offices, are still the exception rather than the rule.
While we are bombarded with information about how the plastic water bottles we choose to drink from and the cars we choose to drive affect the environment, we aren't as aware of the everyday environmental impact of the buildings we work in. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, commercial buildings account for 46.3% of the total US energy consumption—including 49% of US electricity consumption; contribute 18% of the nation's total carbon dioxide emissions; and use 25.6% of the total water consumed in the United States per day. In addition, building-related construction and demolition further burden our environment. Construction and demolition debris accounts for nearly 26% of the total non-industrial waste generated yearly in the United States. And while an estimated 20% to 30% of this debris is recovered for processing and recycling, most architects and builders do not design commercial spaces with environmentally sustainable renovation and demolition in mind.1
Every year, approximately 170,000 commercial buildings are constructed in the United States1, and some of those spaces will house orthodontic practices. Orthodontists building new practice spaces or renovating old ones have a choice to make when they sit down with the architect and builder. Yes, the initial cost of going green can be high, but the decision to do so will lead to both long-term financial and environmental savings. Ultimately, the decision to go green is a business choice, but it is one that will define a practice's future. OP
1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Buildings and their Impact on the Environment: A Statistical Summary. Revised April 22, 1999. http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/pubs/gbstats.pdf. Accessed November 5, 2012.