Choosing a Green Senior Living Community
More and more people today are choosing to move toward a sustainable lifestyle, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but for their own health and to preserve the planet for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
If you are concerned about being eco-friendly and now you’re ready to move into an assisted living community or independent senior retirement community, you may want to continue your sustainability efforts in your new home. Fortunately, as more and more senior living communities move toward a more eco-friendly way of life, it’s possible to do exactly that. Here are some things to look for when you’re searching for an eco-friendly senior living community.
Recycling – This is probably the bare minimum of what any facility should do to promote sustainability. In addition to recycling paper, plastic, and metals, a truly green senior community might also use recycled materials whenever possible, from long-lasting decks and benches made from recycled plastic to recycled paper for their administrative offices.
Eco-friendly landscaping practices – Specific landscaping design methods using plants native to the region can reduce the amount of water a senior community uses. A process called Xeryscaping uses low-water plants and grasses, combined with rocks, water features and other elements to maintain a beautiful landscape without a lot of chemicals often used to keep a lawn green.
Local, sustainably grown food – A top-of-the-line assisted living or independent living community may offer organic produce and grass-fed beef, all from local suppliers, which can contribute to a healthier, as well as more sustainable, way of life.
It’s not uncommon for some senior communities to have their own garden, where residents can grow and care for produce, which they can cook themselves or use during community gatherings. To complete the cycle of sustainability, leftover food and other organic materials can be composted, which can then be used to fertilize on-site gardens and grow more food.
Energy efficient appliances and lighting – While LEDs may not yet be cost-effective for many businesses, a senior community should have upgraded to CFL bulbs. Check for newer appliances that meet EnergyStar standards for efficiency, and maybe even EnergyStar rated windows and doors.
Alternative energy – With incentives and rebates available for alternative energy, such as geothermal heating or solar electricity, facilities that market themselves as “green,” should be looking into these upgrades. If you don’t see evidence of alternative energy, ask. It might be in future plans.
Reduced toxins in the air – Ask about the cleaners used every day, as many commercial cleaners have been proven to be toxic and cause respiratory disorders and other health issues (especially in seniors) and measures to improve or maintain a high indoor air quality.
New construction – If you’re lucky enough to be moving into a brand new senior living community, you may want to find out if green building practices were used, which includes using energy efficient doors, windows and appliances; carpeting, paints and building materials that do not release toxins; and even the building’s orientation to take advantage of passive solar. Buildings, (new or remodeled) may also apply for LEED certification, an internationally recognized standard that shows a building has adhered to certain environmentally friendly building practices.
Evidence of an Eco-Friendly Way of Life
It’s important to make sure senior living communities that claim to be “green” really walk-the-walk. Knowing the value consumers place on green living, some businesses today claim to be green without evidence to back it up. Look for real evidence, from activities devoted to environmental preservation to LEED certification, that shows a senior living or assisted living community is as green as it claims to be.
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