Building out a leasehold space in the most environmentally sustainable fashion is challenging, but entirely possible, if you stick to your guns.
When we decided to build our own clinic, it was because we wanted to do things the way we felt was right for us, and for our community. It is important to us that we minimize the environmental impacts for Pandosy Village Veterinary Hospital, starting with the walls, floors, cabinets and other materials.
Over the last few months, we've found that it isn't always easy to build green. Some subcontractors, especially those who have an environmental bent themselves, or who do work for government, were entirely familiar with sustainable building choices. But with other suppliers, we had to set strict parameters, and educate ourselves enough to request specific materials, and veto others.
Our cabinetry was quite difficult to source... We went through several cabinet makers who didn't know where their wood comes from. We really wanted BC wood; after all, we are in one of the lumber capitals of huge world! Finally, we found a local cabinet maker who sourced his cabinets doors from a small mill in Kamloops.
We are happy to say that all the cabinet doors are gorgeous BC fir, and the boxes are made with a no VOC pressboard, also made in Canada.
Our main environmental criteria for hard surfaces was that they didn't off-gas. We painstakingly requested, researched, suggested and approved no and low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, concrete epoxy and finishes, and even tile grout. We are building a hospital, after all, and we want our clinic to be as healthy as possible for our patients, staff, and customers. It isn't hard to find products that have less than 100 g/l of VOCs, but it was a challenge to find subcontractors who would work with these products. Thankfully, between helpful contractors and our investigative talents, we've managed to build an extremely low VOC hospital.
Durability is another factor that goes a long way when building green. Our countertops and floors throughout the space are concrete, which are extremely low VOC, and last and last. The idea is that we will hopefully never have to replace them. We have also clad several walls in western Canadian made brick, which will stand the test of time, and never have to be replaced.
Some of our choices also include recycled materials, such as our low VOC, vinyl wallpaper. And other times, such as many of our furnishings, and reused and repurposed. Our front desk, for example, is a 100 year old store counter, with a very cool history (ask and we'll tell you in store!) the most environmentally friendly thing we can do is to avoid new construction all together, and we've tried to reuse as many older furnishings as possible.
We hope you enjoy visiting our clinic and store, and if you are interested in our sustainability measures, don't hesitate to ask. We love to tell our green building story!