Who you are and site of action: Greenwood Health Centre, Motueka, a large teaching General Practice.
Goals of your climate action plan: To minimise greenhouse gas emissions and throughput of energy and materials.
How you went about it:
The intention to run a ‘green’ business was established at the inception of the clinic in 2008 with the founding group of six doctors and one dentist. The clinic building was designed as part of the implementation of this goal. The practice manager, in consultation with staff, develops policies to achieve the goals, and the ‘Green Monitor’ of the clinic promotes their implementation. The policies are under constant discussion.
What you’ve accomplished so far. How long did this take?
Heating: The clinic is heated with a wood pellet burner. Water heating is solar, supplemented with electricity.
Transport: The clinic provides bike racks for patients and staff, and a shower for staff. Many of the staff, especially doctors, cycle to work. Several people use electric or hybrid cars. The clinic minimises car use in the course of its functions. If staff need to go to Nelson for training, they are encouraged to ride-share..
Staff on night and emergency duty can access patients’ electronic records from their own homes. Many consultations are done by ‘phone.
Reducing consumption: In a policy statement headed ‘Caring for the environment’, a paragraph is headed, ‘Reducing consumption’. It continues, ‘Staff are encouraged to ask themselves “is this necessary?” before using resources.’
The clinic reduces its use of paper (responsible for up to 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions) by using largely electronic records and communications. Staff are asked to use both sides of sheets of paper and there is a tray for discarded paper on every desk. It will be shredded and recycled. Batteries used in medical equipment are rechargeable. The use of plastic is minimised.
Waste: There is a comprehensive recycling system in place, with receptacles convenient for staff. Organic waste goes into a composting bin. The paper cups for the water fountain in the reception area are compostable. Electronic waste is taken to a centre specialising in its disposal.
The centre has discussed packaging waste with its vaccine suppliers, and found that the supplier is making an effort to recycle packaging. Centre personnel are considering personally delivering Styrofoam boxes for recycling to the Christchurch supplier. That’s dedication!
Food: Some staff eat little meat. At events involving food, there are always vegetarian options.
Lessons learned, obstacles overcome.
The mechanics of auto-feeding wood-pellets to the pellet burner has been troublesome. Despite this, the practice wishes to persist with it.
The practice would like to move toward non-toxic cleaning products, but finds some difficulty in persuading cleaning staff to change their habits (It was suggested that we need professional education for cleaners.)