In 2007, GP launched a series called Green GP in which we looked at how practices could become more environmentally friendly - and how to do so in a way that saved them money.
We covered issues such as recycling one-use surgical instruments to measuring the surgery's carbon footprint and installing solar panels.
The high profile 10:10 climate change campaign is urging businesses and individuals to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 10% or more during 2010.
Throughout 2010 we will be revisiting and updating the Green GP series to provide GPs with the practical advice they need to help them achieve this goal.
Tell us about your green practice?
Send us your green top tips or experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply comment on this article.
Practices can save money through energy conservation and other measures to cut carbon emissions. For example, practices switching to a green energy supplier may be exempted from the climate change levy (part of the VAT charge on energy bills).
Being more frugal with energy use will in any case to cut the bills Visit www.defra.gov.uk/environment for more details.
Be energy efficient
The opportunities for improving energy efficiency are legion. For instance, is the surgery building properly insulated? Are the windows double glazed? Do you make use of natural daylight when possible instead of switching on the lights?
Is low-energy lighting used? Is the central heating system used economically?
Try www.puretrust.org.uk for tips.
Green tax breaks
If planning a surgery move or improving your existing premises, it could be worth finding out whether the project will qualify for any 'green' tax reliefs called enhanced capital allowances (ECAs). ECAs offer 100 per cent tax relief in the year you buy the assets or fixtures and fittings concerned compared to the standard rate of 25 per cent per year. Details at www.carbontrust.co.uk and www.eca.gov.uk/etl.
Footprints and offsetting
The term 'carbon footprint' relates to carbon emissions generated by an activity such as air travel, driving your car or running a GP surgery. Practices can measure their annual carbon footprint using records such as energy bills and online calculators. Or, for a price, a specialist will do it for you.
The next step is to reduce the footprint's size. Advice can be found at www.bestfootforward.com and www.carbonfootprint.com.
With carbon offsetting, the idea is to compensate for the amount of carbon you expend. You could buy and plant trees, for example. There are many carbon-offsetting schemes businesses can pay into for replacing the CO2 they use. See www.carbontrust.com and www.co2balance.com.
Most practices do this to some extent. But if your surgery does not operate a proper policy for this, recycling may be haphazard and some so-called recyclable waste will end up on landfill sites. What, for example, do you do with the practice's empty printer toner cartridges or ink cartridges?
Practices willing to incur some cost to install solar panels or even a wind turbine can generate part of their energy needs from renewable sources very cheaply.
Whether it is feasible or worthwhile to do this is likely to depend on whether your premises and their location are suitable. For example, for turbines a windy site is a must. For information visit www.nef.org.uk.