While there are very few green spas in the United States, there are even fewer Green Medical Spas. As with the spa industry, the medical spa industry is beginning to realize the impact it has on the environment due to the high use of energy, water and waste. It makes sense that medical spa operators are now concerned about taking care of the environment as well as their client’s bodies.
But what is green?
As defined by Wikipedia ~ Green building is the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings use resources — energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building’s lifecycle, through better , design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal.
The most recognized certification of green is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). A Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction. Different LEED versions have varied scoring systems based on a set of required “prerequisites” and a variety of “credits” in the six major categories:
- Sustainable sites
- Water efficiency
- Energy and atmosphere
- Materials and resources
- Indoor environmental quality
- Innovation and design process
Buildings can qualify for four levels of certification:
- Certified – 26-32 points
- Silver – 33-38 points
- Gold – 39-51 points
- Platinum – 52-69 points
Designing and building a green med spa is not all that different than a non-green spa in theory. The development of a Green medical spa has one important difference, it will cost any where from 15 -25% more to develop than a non-green med spa. The increase in cost is mainly due to using sustainable materials, from eco-paints to recycled fabrics, marble flooring and countertops, and recycled and FSC-certified wood. As well as, water filtration systems, electronic medical charting and digital photography that reduce paper, ink and toner usage, plumbing fixtures that are low flow to promote water conservation, and energy efficient lighting are
Building materials typically considered to be ‘green’ include rapidly renewable plant materials like bamboo and straw, lumber from forests certified to be sustainably managed, dimension stone, recycled stone, recycled metal, and other products that are non-toxic, reusable, renewable, and/or recyclable (eg Trass, Linoleum, sheep wool, panels made from paper flakes, baked earth, rammed earth, clay, vermiculite, flax linen, sisal, seagrass, cork, expanded clay grains, coconut, wood fibre plates, calcium sand stone). Building materials should be extracted and manufactured locally to the building site to minimize the energy embedded in their transportation.
All appliances in the space, from computers to flat screen televisions should carry the Energy Star label, meeting strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and US Department of Energy. Lasers use a lot of energy but consider that Laser Hair Removal reduces the amount of disposable razors and shaving cream canisters that are used and the amount of trash that goes into our landfills. Every day 10 million razors are sold that end up in landfills. Also, light based treatments, such as a laser facial offer a non-toxic treatment that won’t pollute the body or the environment.
A new medical spa is obviously easier to develop as a green med spa than an existing operation.
How can your existing medical spa become greener? There are several areas in which you can have a positive impact on the environment:
- Energy usage – Purchase Green Power from your Utility Company
- Reduced water – install low flow pluming
- Recycling of paper, plastic, aluminum and glass
- Install a water filtration system and reduce the number of water bottles
- Use of Energy Star rated appliances – Typical Refrigerators account for 2,800 lbs of CO2 and Laundry dryers 1,446 lbs of CO2 annually
- Using post consumer recycled paper and soy ink in printed collateral material
- Renovating the physical space using reclaimed building materials and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) products in finishes such as paint, flooring and adhesives
- Implementation of green cleaning guidelines including healthy procedures and green cleaning products
- Using toilet paper, paper towels and trash receptacle liners made with recycled content
- Purchase retail products that are organically made and packaging is biodegradable and recyclable.
- Stop using plastic shopping bags
- Replace light bulbs with Compact fluorescents, which consume only a fifth of the electricity incandescent do
Green is not a race nor is it all or nothing. Every little effort counts ….a little goes a long way for our landfills and the environment.