From Portland Incubator Member Kristin Sulis, of Mt Tabor Veterinary Care.
I’ve known since the age of 4 that I wanted to be a
veterinarian. I’ve known since my senior year in veterinary college that
I wanted to be a practice owner. But it wasn’t until I was steeped in the
culture of Portland and had joined Ladies Who Launch that I knew I wanted a Sustainable
Portland is nothing if not green. The environment is so beautiful and conducive to being outdoors that you can’t help but love nature in Oregon. You get the hiking bug as soon as you move here and before I knew it I was not only a hiker but a kayaker, camper, birder, snowshoer (can’t give up the outdoors just because it’s winter), and now a rock climber. And as you spend more time outdoors you learn more and more about the importance of stewardship. I’ve joined Sierra Club, Audubon, and Nature Conservancy. And the thought of throwing away an aluminum can or glass bottle actually makes me ill. In a time of media bombardment about global climate change, I was already ahead of the curve but it was Ladies Who Launch that taught me that sustainability was not just green practice and taking care of the environment, it’s about taking care of myself.
I attended my Incubator in September 2007 with the intention of finding the perfect name for my new veterinary practice. Well, I left with the same name I went in with but I really became clear on what I wanted my practice to be for pets, clients, employees and, really, for myself - sustainable. Could I have a sustainable practice with the budget I allowed? I found a lease space 8 blocks from my house which means that I will bike commute or walk (and not drive 30 minutes each way to work). The space is in my neighborhood and my target clients and patients live here in SE Portland, so their travel will also be short. There are beautiful skylights in the building and we took advantage in our design of the natural light and left many of the rooms open without ceilings to create an aesthetic sense and to provide our staff and myself with a picture of what was happening outdoors. Throughout the buildout we’ve looked for sustainable alternatives. We have a tankless waterheater that saves energy as well as space (and comes with a tax break!) We purchased steel cabinets and stainless steel wet tables that will never age and can be transferred to our next practice if we move. We are using nitrogen instead of a compressor to power our dental tools (quieter for the pets and for us and very inexpensive). We finished the concrete floor that was already in the space to be friendly to dogs – a gripable surface and to use what was in the space already. For finish materials we looked for environmentally friendly alternatives. We purchased salvaged redwood railroad ties for shelves and recycled Paperstone for our counters and we found wheat core doors for our rooms – all at a price the same or only slightly higher than a non sustainable option.