Top Ten Ways to “Green” Your Veterinary Hospital

February 27, 2015

Going “green” indicates being environmentally aware that your habits may negatively impact the ecology and the planet. For animal care facilities, the most common method of reducing your carbon footprint includes learning how you can do your part in taking care of Earth’s remaining resources, saving energy, reducing consumables and eliminating a lot of waste that goes into landfills.  Listed below are rfa’s ten top ways to “green” your veterinary hospital.

10. Reduce Vehicle Emissions.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the average household with two sedans will emit over 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air each year. While most clients rely on vehicles to assist with the transporting of their animals to and from the animal hospital, there are several ways to promote vehicle emission reductions. For clients, offering preferred hybrid parking spaces close to the hospital entrance is a great way to show your green pride. For employees, promoting biking to work by offering bicycle storage and showering facilities is a great way to promote the environment as well as physical fitness.

9. Replace light bulbs.

In the United States alone, buildings consume 70% of all generated electricity. Replacing wattage-wasting light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, also known as CFL bulbs, can reduce energy lighting usage by up to 75 percent and results in good, if not better, lighting quality. Most utility companies offer incentives and cash rebates for businesses who install more efficient lighting. For utility companies, it is far less expensive to offer clients cash incentives than pay hefty costs for upgrading electrical infrastructure in order to handle growing electrical demands.

8. Use eco-friendly cleaning products.

The cleaning of animal care environments is      a daily ritual than can not be overlooked. Eco-friendly cleaning involves the use of products made with essential oils and other plant-based ingredients. A product is eco-friendly if it has the organic seal by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Organic cleaning products should be used whenever possible – they are not only safer for patients, but safer for the staff as well.

 7. Go paperless.

Making the transition from a paper filing system to an electronic filing system can be an overwhelming challenge for most animal care facilities. What is more overwhelming is that the EPA estimates that paper and cardboard account for almost 40% of our garbage. Nearly 3.7 million tons of copy paper is used annually in the U.S. alone – over 700 trillion sheets. Making the transition to an electronic database will not only start to decrease the growing size of landfills, but also assist in improving your hospital’s business operations and, indirectly, overall client satisfaction.

6. Keep electronics out of the trash.

Like their human counterpart, animal hospitals are incorporating and upgrading new computer systems into their practice every year. The EPA estimates that 29.9 million desktops and 12 million laptops were discarded in 2007. That’s over 112,000 computers discarded per day! Before discarding your old electronic hospital equipment, contact a certified electronics recycler for proper disposal.

5. Convert to Digital X-ray

More and more hospitals are making the conversion from film x-ray to digital x-ray. Digital x-ray equipment does not require toxic chemicals to develop film, and since there are no x-ray films, there is less waste generated. As compared to x-ray film, disks are easier to store and transport. Fewer radiographs are needed with digital x-ray, thus staff and patients’ exposure to radiation is greatly reduced.

4. Promote eco-friendly animal care products.

Promoting eco-friendly products shows your hospital’s dedication to the environment. Most pet toys are manufactured in countries where environmental regulations are negligent or irregularly enforced. Many toys are not recyclable and contain toxic chemicals. When promoting or selling products, select items made of recycled materials ororganic fabrics. For grooming products, promote items comprised of non-toxic ingredients such as chamomile, witch hazel, and other plant based extracts.

3. Save water.

Due to the unique nature of cleaning and caring for animal patients, water usage in animal hospitals is significantly higher than typical businesses of similar size. Reducing water usage will not only ease one’s environment conscience, but actual materialize into “green” cost savings. Existing water fixtures can be easily adapted with aerators applied to the faucet nozzle which reduces water flow. High pressure hoses can be installed in animal housing areas which deliver water not only at a higher pressure (psi), but at a lower output (gallons per minutes) as compared to traditional garden hoses.

2. Improve indoor air quality.

Improving indoor air quality not only decreases the spread of airborne contaminants, but studies in human hospitals have shown that air quality improvement can reduce patient healing time. Additionally, studies have shown that improving indoor air quality can improve the overall physical and metal health of staff resulting in fewer sick-days. Steps to enhancing indoor air quality include changing hair clogged filters every 3-6 months, installing UV light emitters in ductwork to kill airborne bacteria and using products that have low volatile organic compounds (V.O.C.s).

 1. Promote eco-friendly ideas to your clients and staff.

Showing that your hospital not only cares for animals but Mother Nature as well can set your hospital apart from the competition. Being a leader in your community with regards to “green” can create a media buzz and result in new clients who would have normally not ventured to give you their business. In a time when maintaining hard working, dedicated staff is critical to a hospitals success, implementing green policies in the hospital workplace can be fun and rewarding for both staff and management, resulting in lower staff attrition rates.

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