Trending Green in Senior Living

“Don’t let me hear you say life’s taking you nowhere.” Lyrics from the song Golden Years, written by David Bowie, debuted in 1975

Not too long ago, a reference to the Golden Years was a reference to a past usefulness, to the beginning of an end. Today it’s an emphatic reference to a new beginning.

Today’s senior living and senior care environments require a better appreciation of continuing lifestyles. Lifestyles that include a greater degree of independence, physical and mental fitness and connectedness to global issues must be accounted for as we design for a new breed of senior. Yes the baby boomers, and following generations, are and will continue to be demanding. And why not? Better educated, empowered and with greater social awareness, the 55 + generations demand a continuance of the lifestyles they’ve come to enjoy. And I submit that in the near future, 55 will no longer be a recognized threshold.

As with other expectations high design in senior living is now standard issue. Today’s homes lean more towards hospitality with a strong mix of comfort, security and a plethora of amenities. It’s not your Dad’s Chevrolet anymore or if it is, it’s not an Impala but more like a Corvette or maybe, a Malibu Hybrid! When choosing a home, high performance or green features will impact decision making.

Today’s senior living environments include a particular bias towards energy efficiency, indoor air quality and integration of natural day-lighting with strong connections to outdoor activity. One of our recently completed assisted living projects included a fully commissioned, highly efficient, chilled water system for cooling and heating. This system will offer the owner an annual savings of over $36,000 and a return on investment of less than 4 years. Other green features included maximized day-lighting, low emitting indoor materials, balconies in every unit and even waterless urinals.

On another project, the owner/operator has expressed a desire to include similar strategies and to consider integrating a Photovoltaic (solar) system as well. What we are witnessing is a combined effort to respond to the market demand for healthier, more eco-sensitive environments while keeping a keen focus on reductions in energy, operating and maintenance costs. We’ve come to the realization that green or sustainable design is good design and that the expectation of residents and operators alike, is that their buildings will perform accordingly.

By the way, flamboyant rock and roll icon David Bowie turns 66 this year.


Published in AIA Blueprints for Senior Living

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