Beaconsfield Dental is the green team

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Beaconsfield Dental
Photo: Dr Robert Panjkov and his practice manager wife, Lisa, Beaconsfield Dental

A passionate commitment to sustainable practices has been no barrier to the success of Beaconsfield Dental. By Kerryn Ramsey

Beaconsfield Dental is one of the greenest practices in Australia with sustainability at the centre of every aspect of the business. Owned by Dr Robert Panjkov and his practice manager wife, Lisa, they have won numerous awards due to their embrace of sustainable practices and environmentally friendly technology. At the same time, this large, modern surgery utilises state-of-the-art equipment. After all, going green is no reason to forego dental excellence.

Located in the Melbourne suburb of Berwick, a 40-kilometre drive from the CBD, Beaconsfield Dental has seven treatment rooms, 12 dentists and 16 support staff. The practice recently maxed out the number of solar panels on its roof at 144.

“Solar is perfect for businesses because we’re working when the sun is shining,” says Dr Panjkov. “Our building can generate 220 kilowatt hours in a day. In the past eight years, we’ve generated 20 megawatts. We generate so much power that there are times when we’re feeding it back to the grid.”

Solar panels are a substantial investment that offer a long-term benefit. By having a 10-year plan, Beaconsfield Dental has seen their solar panels pay themselves off. Even taking into account depreciation, a rooftop solar system makes solid financial sense. 

Embracing sustainability

Dr Panjkov started Beaconsfield Dental from scratch in 1988. A move to a new location in 2013 was an opportunity to create a purpose-built, sustainable dental practice from the ground up. While some business owners believe it’s simply too expensive to go green, Dr Panjkov and Lisa are convinced it’s worthwhile.

“We knew it was the right thing to do,” says Lisa. “It’s expensive at the outset but, in the long term, it has paid off financially. Sustainability should be the obvious choice for all businesses.”

Any business thinking of going green should remember that every little improvement makes a difference. Whether you add a compost bin, recycle soft plastics, fit solar panels or upgrade to LED lights, it’s all a step in the right direction.

Lisa Panjkov, practice manager, Beaconsfield Dental

Along with the solar panels on the roof, they added 17,000-litre water tanks for garden use and for flushing toilets. This saves up to 70,000 litres of water a year.

“If you think about it, using drinking water to flush your toilet is crazy,” says Lisa. “One of our patients painted Victoria’s floral emblems onto our water tanks and they look fantastic.”

The entire practice is fully insulated and double glazed. There are 12 compost bins for everything from food scraps to coffee grounds to shredded paper. A Tesla charger was recently added to the parking area. The garden consists of indigenous species and edible native plants. As well as being low maintenance and requiring minimal watering, it attracts cockatoos, other native birds and native bees.

Green challenges

Running a sustainable practice can offer challenges in regard to dental products, infection control and single-use items. When Dr Panjkov gives talks about sustainability, this is a point that’s often raised. But he prefers to look at the bigger picture and even calls his talk, ‘Not Just About Bamboo Toothbrushes’.

“People think that if they use a bamboo toothbrush, all is right with the world,” Dr Panjkov says. “But power and water should be the main concerns of every dental practice. After all, what procedure doesn’t use power and water?”

At Beaconsfield Dental, they have autoclaves, sterilisers, dozens of computers, televisions, seven chairs, lighting, digital scanners and more. By using their self-generated solar power to run the majority of the equipment, they save money and drastically reduce their emissions.

There’s no downside to caring for the environment. When you can do some good and save money in the process, it’s a no-brainer.

Dr Robert Panjkov, owner, Beaconsfield Dental

“If every business did what we do, Australia could cut its emissions in half,” says Dr Panjkov.

Staff directives

As well as using environmentally friendly products and technology, all staff at Beaconsfield Dental follow a set of clear directives. These simple instructions have a huge impact on sustainability and consumption. They include:

• Turn off all appliances and lights that are not in use or are unnecessary.

• Do not start autoclaves, thermal disinfectors or ultrasonic baths unless full of instruments.

• Ensure the blinds on the west of the building are down during the summer months and retracted in the cooler months.

• All products that can be recycled must be recycled.

• Amalgam waste is collected in purpose-cartridges canisters.

• Wherever possible, biodegradable and environmentally friendly products are to be sourced.

“None of our directives are onerous or detract from efficiency,” says Dr Panjkov. “As well as making a difference ourselves, we also want to spread the word. I’m proud of the fact that we gently influence our staff and clients to more sustainable ways. How we act and what we do also sends a message to clients that we care. Our practice motto is, ‘Caring for the local community and the environment’.”

Awards winner

Beaconsfield Dental has twice been a finalist for the Premier’s Sustainability Awards and a winner in 2018. Their implementation of such a broad range of sustainability measures has seen them become a finalist once again in the 2022 awards. Over the years, they’ve also won a raft of other awards for their outstanding business, environment and sustainability credentials. 

“Any business thinking of going green should remember that every little improvement makes a difference,” says Lisa. “Whether you add a compost bin, recycle soft plastics, fit solar panels or upgrade to LED lights, it’s all a step in the right direction. And once you see how easy it is to take the first few steps, more good practices invariably follow. Minimal effort produces maximum results.”

As Dr Panjkov points out, “There’s no downside to caring for the environment. When you can do some good and save money in the process, it’s a no-brainer.”  

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