Opportunities for including eco-friendly practices in veterinary facility designs

There is a variety of ways in which veterinarians can integrate eco-friendly designs into their veterinary clinics. Some of the options listed below may not be appropriate or feasible for your clinic. This list is intended only to inform you of some available options.

Additional resources can be found on the following sites

Use eco-friendly building materials

  • If you're tearing down an existing building, recycle as many of the components and materials as possible for use in the new building or in others. This includes saving doors, windows, concrete, insulation, and other materials that may be reused in the new construction.
  • Use stained and finished concrete for flooring instead of linoleum, which can release formaldehyde.
  • If carpet is to be used in parts of the building, use carpet made from recycled materials.
  • Use alternative insulation materials, such as those made from newspapers (cellulose) or old jeans (cotton fiber).
  • In warmer climates, use white roof shingles that have been shown to reflect solar energy and reduce heat gain, which reduces the building's cooling needs.
  • Use low- to no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and adhesives.
  • Add amenities that foster employees' use of alternative modes of transportation: for example, encourage employees to bike to work by installing bike racks outside and staff dressing rooms, showers, and lockers inside the building.

Choose your building's location and design wisely

  • Choose a location in a pre-existing waste management service area or waste brokers' coverage area.
  • Choose a location near public transportation (bus or train stop) to provide clients and staff the option of using eco-friendly transportation.
  • Design the building to maximize energy efficiency according to the seasonal climate, sun exposure, and predominant wind direction of the site location.
  • Design the building to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification criteria.
  • Use landscaping design and materials that will reduce environmental contamination and minimize water consumption. For tips, visit EPA's page on beneficial landscaping.

Reduce waste production and improve waste management

Increase energy efficiency

  • Optimize the use of windows and skylights to allow maximum natural light to enter. Some conditions may be amenable to installation of windows that open to allow natural air circulation when desired.
  • Use glass windows or doors between rooms and spaces to allow light into the rooms and create a more visually open space while reducing the need for light fixtures.
  • Install a more efficient HVAC system that utilizes an energy-recuperation method, which captures latent heat from air released from the building and uses that heat to preheat the air being pumped into the building.
  • Use only ENERGY STAR approved appliances, computers, and other items.
  • Install a system to capture solar or wind energy from the environment.
  • Insulate and tint windows to decrease a building's heat gain during warm months and reduce heat loss during cooler months.
  • Incorporate a weather-lock entry vestibule into the design to prevent outside air from entering and inside air from rapidly escaping when the front door opens. This can also serve as an added security precaution against animal escape.

Improve water efficiency

  • Incorporate materials and techniques in your hardscaping (e.g., driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, etc.) that minimize storm water runoff. For example, porous asphalt and cellular paving both allow water to pass through them instead of running off and accumulating in storm drains.
  • Install a tank-less water heater to save space and energy as well as water.
  • Hire a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) -certified landscape architect, and landscape using only native, non-toxic plants that are drought-resistant to reduce the need for watering.
  • Install low-flow water fixtures for faucets and showerheads as well as low-flow or dual-flush toilets.

Be a leader

  • Join ENERGY STAR for Buildings and Plants.
  • Become a LEED-certified building. This title is overseen by the U.S. Green Building Council and distinguishes a building for its superior environmental responsibility.
  • Educate your clientele and show them the practice's dedication to the environment by displaying educational posters or handouts about efforts the practice has made to become green / eco-friendly and why you feel the endeavors are important.