CPH, which opened to the public at the end of December, isn’t your average veterinary hospital. Majeska and Weber have made a commitment to providing quality care not only to Philadelphia’s pets, but also to the environment—which is evident within the walls of their super eco-friendly building.
Majeska and Weber live in the neighborhood. Majeska received her Veterinary Medicine Degree from the University of Pennsylvania and has been practicing throughout the region for almost a decade. Her husband had been urging her to open her own practice for years. In 2006, they set their sights on the overgrown abandoned lot that would become CPH. Their South Philly community welcomed the idea enthusiastically. “The neighborhood was great,” says Weber. “They were completely supportive.” The couple bought the land in March 2007 and embarked on a three-year journey to build the veterinary hospital of their dreams.
The use of sustainable design and building practices was a must in the construction of CPH. Majeska, who admits she’s been “a hippie for years,” wouldn’t have it any other way. “I was a wildlife major in school, so the idea of green space has always been a big deal to me,” she explains. Weber, whose background is in real estate, was also eager to go green with their new venture. “He’s converted, and now he’s actually worse than me,” jokes Majeska.
With local architect Ivano D’Angella and Helios Builders’ Chris Dardaris at the helm, the couple assembled a team of experts to ensure that every aspect of the project met their sustainability requirements. For additional resources, they also brought in Re:Vision Architecture Project Manager Mike Cronomiz as a sustainability consultant. Majeska and Weber wanted to source building materials as locally as possible—everything came from within 500 miles.
Touring the building (which is still undergoing some finishing touches) is like being a kid in a sustainable candy store. First there’s the striking living wall, which climbs two stories from the first floor reception area. The staff planted it themselves—after some DIY instruction from YouTube—and waters it twice a day. “It’s definitely for our clients, but it’s also really good for our staff,” says Majeska. There also are plans for a green roof to be planted in the spring.
The hospital’s floor is made from recycled porcelain, with recycled rubber in some areas, and the reception desk is made of sustainable cork. CPH gets ample natural light through its windows, which is supplemented by solar tubes throughout, allowing additional sunlight in from above. A unique translucent material called Kalwall—a wall panel system that allows natural light while providing insulation and stability on par with a standard wall—lines a portion of the second floor. These progressive design elements dramatically cut down on the use of electric lighting, and some of the facility’s rooms go an entire day without the flip of a switch.
Weber, who acts as hospital manager, is also proud of CPH’s use of computer technology and high-tech gadgets. They are a paperless office, with all records kept electronically. When patients are admitted, pet owners write their information on an erasable, reusable sign-in sheet and everything is transferred into the computer immediately. All invoices and medical records are emailed, and their credit card machine is an iPod Touch, which allows clients to sign on screen and have the receipt emailed to them. In addition, CPH invested in high-powered Dyson hand dryers, which cut down on the use of paper towels. They use rags and washcloths to wipe down surfaces, and are especially excited about their new laundry area. CPH also opted for a digital X-ray system, which eliminates the need for developing chemicals and allows for convenient emailing.
From the use of homemade cleaning solutions—when possible; some toxic situations call for bleach—to stocking recycled tissues, Majeska and Weber take every detail seriously. Even the dog treats they carry are organic. “No one is ever going to know that my trash bags are biodegradable,” says Majeska, “but I will, and so will our staff.”
The entire building is painted with brightly colored, zero-VOC paints, and exam rooms are decorated with paintings by local artists, offering a warm, friendly environment for patients and their owners.
Majeska believes in quality medicine for the pets she treats. “A lot of people take a sort of piecemeal approach, especially in this economy,” she explains. “It’s best to treat the situation right. If you have an itchy dog and just prescribe steroids, you’re not really fixing the problem.” All CPH appointments are a half-hour long, so Majeska can spend the time she needs explaining what people should do for their pets and why.
Majeska, Weber and the entire CPH team are thrilled to be up and running after three years of preparation. They recently hosted an open house to unveil their new space, and have plans to add a retail space and grooming facilities in the future.
1524 S. 5th St., (215) 703-7387, www. companion-pets.com