Küster Dental Blog

Posts Tagged ‘green dentistry’

Did You Ride Your Bike Today?

Posted on: May 16th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Bike Riders

Bike Riders

Today is National Bike to Work Day! Did you ride your bike to the office this morning? If you did, would you have a place to put it? I’m amazed how few dental practices, especially the standalone ones, don’t have any place for patients and staff to lock up their bike if they ride one to the office. We’ve always found bike racks to be a creative way to add interesting features to the landscape. Adding a bike parking location is an easy and straightforward this to do as part of the parking and front entry design of the building. Additionally, adding bike storage is one of the key elements of the Sustainable Locations portion of the Eco Dental Association’s Green Doc program.

Or, your rack may be a more complex curve to hold many bikes

Or, your rack may be a more complex curve to hold many bikes

Your bike rack may be simple like this single hoop

Your bike rack may be simple like this single hoop

Stanford Kicks the Coal Habit

Posted on: May 12th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Smoke Stacks and Carbon Emissions

Smoke Stacks and Carbon Emissions

Stanford University’s Board of Trustees voted to divest the university endowment from coal. Following a strategy used to fight apartheid, a student group led a campaign against the carbon rich fossil fuel, and they are hoping this catches on with other large institutional investors. Coming in the same week that President Obama announced a renewed battle to fight climate change, one can only hope that Stanford truly is at the forefront in the fight against coal.

The odds of a large move against coal are not good. Europe has fallen in love with inexpensive coal from the U.S. As countries such as China and India continue to push their economies forward, they are going to need more energy and not less. With the U.S. on a new energy independence high, weaning the country off its low-cost fossil fuel isn’t going to be easy. Cleaning our air is going to have to be a global initiative and not a “one country going alone” approach.

As small business owners, dentists can certainly do their part by critically analyzing their practices and reducing energy consumption at every turn. As homeowners we can all make strides in reducing carbon by reducing our energy consumption, too. As communities, generating electricity from natural gas produces half the carbon emissions as burning coal. Along with recycling and water usage reduction programs we can all contribute in making great strides toward reducing the total amount of carbon emissions. We can also all join together in encouraging other large, institutional investors to divest from fossil fuels, and coal in particular. I remember when the world banded together and divested from South Africa and the sweeping change that brought. Let’s join Stanford’s Board of Trustees and make this a global change. We’ll all feel better – literally.

The Time is Now

Posted on: May 7th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
The Earth as seen from space

The Earth as seen from space

President Obama is on a roll this week announcing he’s making battling climate change a major priority for the remainder of his term. All we can say is, “It’s about time!” We don’t know about anyone else, but we’re tired of hearing and reading about all of the political back-and-forth over whether climate change is real or isn’t real. The science from what we’ve seen is pretty convincing that climate change is real and happening now. Just think about Katrina, Sandy, mud slides, and droughts. That all seems pretty real to us. We also don’t believe there is any point in arguing whether humans are the cause or not. That is a pointless argument. Carbon is the cause and humans are the only species on the planet that has the capacity to deal with rising carbon emissions. If we don’t act, who will – the dolphins or the rhinos?

Buildings amount for approximately 39% of all carbon emissions. This includes every house, office building, and factory. We were taught in accounting classes that if one wants to cut expenses always start with the single largest line item on the Income Statement. Well, guess what? A line item that amounts to 39% is a pretty large item and one that everyone has a hand in since we all live and work in a building of one form or another. There’s no opportunity to push the responsibility for change off on “the factories.”

We can all attack this problem by reducing the energy use at home and at work. Replace all lighting with LED that uses a mere 15% of the energy of an incandescent bulb. We can replace all water faucets and fixtures with Water Sense fixtures that use less water and are more efficient. We can all make sure we have plenty of insulation in the walls and ceilings of our homes and offices. (Okay, if we rent office space this might be a stretch, but we can seek out offices that are located in LEED certified buildings.) We can all recycle. If we’re a dentist we can join the Eco Dentistry Association and make our practices more efficient by becoming Green Doc Certified.  If we’re an architect, engineer, or designer we can design to LEED standards whether our clients ask us to or not. Why?  Because it is the right thing to do.

Let’s stop pointing fingers and passing-the-buck. Let’s join together and get serious about making change for the good and halting the effects of climate change. We have great faith in the capacity of mankind for great change and great good. For our own survival and that of every other species on the planet (except for cockroaches as we think they can survive anything), we have a rare moment to make history.

Lighting Revolution Underway

Posted on: February 26th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Soon to be history, incandescent bulb

Soon to be history, incandescent bulb

One of the critical ways to help create a memorable dental office experience is through appropriate lighting.  Good lighting design will help a space really come alive.  Lighting helps create and enhance the shadows and spots that transforms a room from ordinary to spectacular.  We really feel it is a shame that so many dental offices have given so little thought to their lighting and merely thrown in a few “cans” and overhead fluorescent fixtures.  These do nothing to create great light to work by, to create a memorable experience for patients, or to reduce the practice’s energy footprint.  New regulations may help move things forward by eliminating the incandescent bulb from store shelves.

December 31, 2013 marked the last day that 40 and 60 watt incandescent bulbs could be manufactured for sale.  This follows the elimination of the 75 and 100 watt bulbs a year ago.  Incandescent bulbs only convert 10% of the energy they consume into light.  While halogen, compact fluorescent, and LED’s are all still available, we prefer the use of LED’s above all others.

LED’s (light emitting diodes) use only 15% of the energy of a traditional incandescent bulb and less than half of a fluorescent.  Plus, they contain no mercury that can wreak havoc with the environment if not properly disposed of.  The range of colors (Kelvin) that are available in LED’s is increasing daily along with the amount of light (lumens) they emit.  Given this it is easier to create a bright, sunlight true (kelvin above 3500) operatory and a warmer, yellower light (kelvin closer to 2000) in the waiting area.

“But, the fixtures are so expensive!” We hear this a lot, but mainly from contractors and not our clients, and this can be true – to a point.  A room that would require nine (9) incandescent or compact fluorescent can fixtures may require as few as five (5) LED ones.  So, not only is the dental office spending less on energy to illuminate the space they are spending less up front on total fixture and installation cost.  Sounds like a win-win to us!

Fresh from the Mid Winter Meeting

Posted on: February 24th, 2014 by James Kuester 1 Comment

conference_logo 14I’m just back from the Mid-Winter Dental Meeting in Chicago where the convention planning committee met to work on the details for the 2014 Green Dentistry Conference.  The 2014 conference will be held 17-19 October at Sundance Resort in Utah.

The 2014 conference is going to be even more exciting than the inaugural event in 2013.  The committee has already secured Gary Takacs to do a presentation on creating a green dental team that rocks.  If you’ve not heard Gary before, he’s dynamic and dedicated to help dental teams thrive.

The handling of amalgams and their disposal will be another hot topic, as the committee is working to make sure the conference is packed full of hands-on, practical knowledge for improving both the energy efficiency and operation of the green dental office.

Of course, we’ll be doing a presentation on designing the green dental office of your dreams.  Isn’t that what every dentist wants?

The conference will have more full-group presentations than last year. Our thought is that this will give attendees more opportunity to share ideas.  This will also reduce the walking time between sessions and increase the time spent learning.

If you’ve not yet registered be sure to visit ecodentistry.org and get registered today!

Using Technology to Enhance the Patient Experience

Posted on: February 14th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Creating a comfortable consultation room.

Creating a comfortable consultation room.

Maybe it is just a function of living in the dawn of the 21st century, but technology has reached an ever present point that incorporating it into the design of a dental office just seems natural.  By incorporating technology into the design we can improve both the operational efficiency of the office and the patient experience.  We can also reduce the energy consumption of the office making the dental practice more environmentally friendly.

We’re working on two projects right now with clients to bring technology to bear in order to improve their patient experience.  While the specific details vary slightly between the two clients, the end goal is the same – both clients want to improve their presentation capabilities while meeting with patients.  Designing enhanced consultations rooms is really fun, as they pose different challenges than any other room in the dental office.  The room needs to be comfortable, safe, soundproof (or at least sound deadening), and technologically easy for the dentist or presenter to maneuver through all of the material they want to cover with the patient.  The room needs to create an environment that avoids putting patients in an uncomfortable “weak” position to the dentist so they are not on the defensive when making financial decision related to their care.  We see consultation rooms that are so frequently designed that put the dentist in a power position relative to the patient and we wonder just how much work the dentist has to do to close a sale.  Of course, seeing is believing, and with the ability to show patients exactly what is going inside their mouths through the use of digital x-rays and intraoral cameras we wonder why anyone would refuse to proceed with a recommended treatment.  However, the more comfortable the patient is during the presentation process the more likely they will move forward with the treatment plan.

We mentioned the need to be soundproof, but HIPAA demands that no one walking past the consultation room or standing outside of if should be able to learn anything about what is going on inside.  This requires careful design of the room for visual as well as sound protection of the occupants without just creating a dark, depressing cave.

We’ve had push back at times over the amount of square footage required to create a consultation room as many don’t view this as revenue generating space.  We beg to differ.  If this is the place that larger treatment plans are reviewed and agreed upon, isn’t it important to have a space that more deals are closed than in the past?

Breathe New Life thru Design

Posted on: February 12th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse.  The mantra of “Going Green.”  While we work extensively with clients to incorporate environmentally friendly design into their dental office building and remodeling projects, we rarely see the opportunity to reclaim a really cool, abandoned or underutilized space and breathe new life into it by converting it to a dental office.  Why is this?  This can’t be because dentists aren’t hip and cool.  Some of the hippest people we know are our dental clients.  The answer must be a dearth of really cool properties that are suitable for a dental office conversion.

Whatever the reason we love what this small town in northern Indiana was able to do to give new life to one of its historic properties.

In the lap of luxury at Charley Creek Inn

A restored historic hotel

In the railroad era, most hotels were clustered downtown near the train station for the convenience of travelers. With the arrival of interstates on the outskirts, 70 mile per hour speed limits, and chain motels, many of Indiana’s nineteenth and early twentieth century downtown hotels were demolished.


Giving Thanks

Posted on: November 27th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

All of us here at Küster Dental Office Design would like to pause and offer our thanks for another wonderful year.  We so very much appreciate our clients, friends, and colleagues that provide us the freedom to do what we enjoy doing each and every day of the year.  We are truly blessed.  Designing creative and inventive spaces that reward our clients’ investment in an improved bottom-line through reduced cancellations, increased referrals, and improved productivity is richly rewarding.  Being able to design spaces that improve the health of our environment through reduced carbon usage and carbon impact is immensely satisfying, and we owe it to all of you.

This year, as we bend our heads in thanksgiving over a bountiful meal, we’d like to give special thanks to Ina, Fred, Marcella, and Olga – the amazing staff at the Eco Dentistry Association – for allowing me the privilege to work with them this past year on the first ever Green Dentistry Conference.  It was an amazing experience and we’re looking forward to an even greater conference in 2014.

Let us pause tomorrow from the hustle and bustle and frenzy of this amazing, crazy, mixed-up world and spend it with family and friends and remember and give thanks for all of the blessings each of us experience every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Is Healthcare Killing the Planet?

Posted on: October 25th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments


The Earth as seen from space

The Earth as seen from space

I spent most of today in the emergency room with my parents.  My father called shortly after I arrived at the office and said he’d just called 911 because my mother had collapsed in the kitchen.  I met him at the hospital where we spent the next six hours watching the staff perform all kinds of tests trying to determine what caused my mother’s collapse.  As I watched the staff going about their examinations I became appalled at the sheer volume of waste generated by my mother’s brief stay.

As you’ve no doubt noticed if you’re a frequent reader of my blog, I’m a big proponent of green dentistry.  I believe there is so much room for positively impacting our environment and reducing our carbon footprint by following the guidelines as set forth in the Eco Dentistry Association’s GreenDoc program and USGBC’s LEED program.  While the hospital my mother was taken to achieved LEED Gold status when it was built, I was overwhelmed by the amount of waste generated.  Virtually everything used in the examination of my mom went into a single, large trash container after it was used.  This not only included the packaging for the bandages and syringes, but the plastic bedpan, wash basin, and staple gun, as well.  Why are these things single use?  I understand the need for sanitation and infection control, but isn’t there some more environmentally responsible manner of cleaning and reusing these things rather than sending them to a landfill?  Not to mention the amount of energy it took to produce them for a single, five minutes of use.

The trip today makes me realize just why the cost of healthcare is so high.  Effective cleaning agents can’t possibly cost as much as throwing these things out every time a patient uses them.  What about someone who has a longer stay than my mother did? How much trash must they generate?  Today’s visit also makes me better appreciate the mission of the Eco Dentistry Association and motivated to see if there’s some way to carry their message to other areas of healthcare.  There is just something not right that an industry dedicated to making us healthier should be having such a detrimental impact on our planet.

Lonely and Forgotten

Posted on: October 21st, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments


Lonely footbridge

Lonely footbridge

Hiking through the woods the other day I came across a small, wooden footbridge over a small ditch several feet from the path.  At one time I’m sure the ditch carried a steady stream of water and the footbridge was necessary to cross without getting wet.  However, even though there’d been steady rain the day before there was still no water in the ditch.  Plus, the path had long since moved away from the footbridge and there was no signs that the trail had ever gone that way.  There the little bridge sits, alone in the woods, falling into disrepair.

Why has water stopped flowing in the little ditch?  Has climate change altered the water flow in this area sending the run off elsewhere?  Or, does less rain fall now than it used to?  Climate change is real and there are signs of it around us every day.  “But, man isn’t the cause,” we hear in the news.  I say, “Does it matter?”  We only have one Earth.  The technology for us to leave this planet and take up residence elsewhere is generations in the future.  However, we do have the technology to reduce our carbon emissions and reduce our impact on Mother Earth today.  The design of our dental office and homes can go a long way in helping us reduce our footprint.  Well over 30% of all carbon emissions comes from our buildings, so doesn’t it make sense for them to be the first place we start reducing the load?

Three little words to live by will help keep us on the right track – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Let’s make a change for the good.