IF ANY OF THE many environmentally conscious aspects of Creekwood Dental Arts in Waco, Texas, sparks a “conservation conversation” among patients, Dr. Donna Miller and her staff feel like they’ve done their job.

“Preservation is simply a way of life,” says Dr. Miller, a general practitioner in Waco for 28 years. “We preserve, restore and improve our patients’ dental health, and that’s the same way we approach the world.”

Her practice certainly reflects that ethos: Among much else, it features high-efficiency lighting and HVAC systems, water-saving dual-flush toilets and a 10,000-gallon rainwater storage tank (partly visible from one side of the practice, helping spark those ecological chats), which harvests runoff from the rooftop drainage system. Outside, drip irrigation, not a sprinkler system, keeps the surroundings (including a “green fence” of attractive bushes) healthy while using much less water.

Creekwood Dental Arts is right at home in Waco, a city at the forefront of the green- design revolution. It built the first LEED-certified Chamber of Commerce in the entire nation, and a number of local institutions — including Baylor University, Dr. Miller’s alma mater — have embraced the practice as well.

Architect Jane Kittner, a green-design specialist, oversaw construction on the space, which opened in October 2011. It’s a two-tier facility with 4,695 square feet of clinical space up top and 2,100 more (for meetings and storage) below. Upstairs, sunlight floods through the large operatory windows. “Patients appreciate being able to see trees, sky and wildlife,” Dr. Miller says.

A primary concern of anyone considering a green overhaul, of course, is cost. Dr. Miller points out that the higher outlays pay off: “The initial investment to build to LEED standards is recouped many times over through operation of the facilities. For example, the electricity costs here are two-thirds of the costs at my former office, and the new one is almost three times larger.”

Now Dr. Miller, her partner Dr. Michelle Hinds and their staff of 15 revel in a beautiful workspace they all had a hand in helping imagine and design. “We wanted to show our patients and community how small environmental steps could have large consequences, as well as cost savings in the long run,” Dr. Miller says. Mission accomplished — and those conservation conversations seem sure to continue.

Dr. Donna Miller’s Green-Design Tips

    Your equipment specialist should work in tandem with your architect, HVAC engineer and contractors every step of the way.
  2. GET DESIGN INPUT FROM YOUR LONG-TERM EMPLOYEES. Hygienists, assistants and front-office staff are all likely to have good suggestions.
  3. VISIT OTHER OFFICES, both dental and non-dental, to get ideas.
  4. ATTEND DENTAL-DESIGN SEMINARS. They’re a great source of ideas, tips and tactics you might not otherwise have thought of.