NEBCO Goes 'Green'

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By Miki Fairley

"The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives." -Native American Proverb

Owners and staff of the New England Brace Company (NEBCO) are excited about their new 12,000-sq. ft., three-storey building now being built in the Manchester, New Hampshire, area. Two different locations will be combined in the new structure, which will house the company's main headquarters, patient care in the Manchester area, the central fabrication shop, and a staff of about 15 employees.

From the beginning, the company wanted to incorporate as many environmentally friendly features as possible while staying within the estimated budget, according to Karen Acton, PT, CO, general manager.

Some of the "green" features include:

  • Insulating the building with soy-based spray foam insulation rather than petroleum based. Installing double-hung windows so windows can be opened in nice weather, reducing the need for constant ventilation and cooling.
  • Evaluating the use of solar-heated water embedded in a radiant heating system to keep walkways and patient entrances ice-free.
  • Starting an aggressive recycling program to reduce by 60 percent the volume of garbage generated.
  • Everything from scrap plastic, plaster molds, office paper, and card board will be recycled along with standard items such as cans and bottles.
  • Combining two offices, thus reducing the amount of employee travel time.
  • Installing a videoconferencing system in the conference room for remote employees, so they can teleconference rather than drive to the meeting site.

"As far as our current operational systems, we are already over 50 percent paperless, having been utilizing Futura for our documentation," Acton adds.

According to Acton, being environmentally responsible just makes good business sense. "We have always been interested in conservation because it is environmentally responsible as well as a good business practice," she says. "The current spike in fuel and materials costs have driven this issue to the forefront, making it critical to build in a way to conserve energy and reduce resource usage anywhere we can."

She adds, "Our employees are very happy to take part in our recycling and conservation efforts because it builds a sense of teamwork and commitment to a cause. They are willing to tolerate keeping the heat a little lower during the winter and the AC a little warmer during the summer, knowing that we are saving energy and reducing costs."

Other O&P companies are getting on the green bandwagon as well. Some of their day-to-day conservation efforts include bicycling to work when distance and weather permit, recycling, and going paperless. Grace Prosthetic Fabrication Inc., New Port Richey, Florida, for example, is including green features in its operations, including:

  • E-mailing newsletters rather than using postal mail.
  • Combining invoices in one mailing to customers who have not signed up for e-mail invoices.
  • Providing access to order forms and price lists online; converting paper price lists to CD.
  • Using ceiling fans throughout the facility to reduce air conditioning usage.
  • Recycling packing supplies, such as peanuts and paper; recycling aluminum cans.

These ideas may inspire others at O&P facilities across the country.