Sorry, Kermit; it is easy being green, which is why environmentalism is trending in the senior living industry. Let’s talk about what green senior living means for your aging loved ones and the communities they live in.
According to a recent The Lancet review, roughly one in six deaths worldwide can be attributed to pollution. And older adults are at greater risk of experiencing adverse health effects from climate change and pollution.
That means that green living isn’t just for Kermit; it’s for everyone, especially older adults. When our communities recognize the importance of green infrastructure and other sustainable building practices, we (and our descendants) can enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
Fortunately, many senior living communities recognize how important greener living, architecture, and infrastructure is to the health and well-being of their residents. That’s why it’s no surprise that the senior living industry in the United States has seen an increase in the following eco-friendly trends:
To better understand what green infrastructure is, you first need to know what it is not.
Human-made “gray infrastructure” for stormwater management is all too common in today’s modern world. Pipes, tunnels, and other hard surfaces are all present in this framework. Just because it’s common, however, doesn’t mean it’s great. All of this human-made architecture disrupts the natural water cycle, preventing the ground from absorbing water the way Mother Nature intends. These disruptions lead to flooding, water pollution, and sewer runoffs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The solution? To create stormwater management systems that mimic nature.
That’s where green infrastructure for stormwater management comes into play. “Green infrastructure” is a term that encompasses a holistic, community-driven, environmentally-friendly approach to community planning and tackling climate challenges. Many people use the term to specifically refer to more natural methods of stormwater management (although it can also refer more broadly to all kinds of nature-mimicking, eco-friendly infrastructure).
This method makes use of natural features like soil and vegetation to catch and treat rainwater, reducing the odds of outcomes like flooding or pollution. Permeable pavement, rain gardens, planter boxes, and more are all examples of green infrastructure; it also includes methods of capturing stormwater so that people can use it for purposes like irrigation.
According to the EPA, benefits of green infrastructure can include:
Better for the environment. Better for the people. Better for the wallet. What’s not to love? If your aging relatives move into communities that prioritize green infrastructure, you can rest easy knowing that they are enjoying better air and water quality. They can also enjoy a more lush, green environment surrounding their buildings. That can mean more walks surrounded by greenery. And, for communities with communal gardening, horticultural therapy is readily available.
Eco-friendlier stormwater management isn’t the only way senior living is going green. From more sustainable building practices to improved air quality systems, there are plenty of ways that senior living communities across the United States are improving the lives of their residents by being gentler on the environment.
Take, for example, Coopers Corner by Monarch Communities®. Located in New Rochelle, NY, this senior living community is seeking WELL Certification (WELL v2™) from the International WELL Building Institute. That means their architecture is rated based on ten core concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, movement, materials, thermal comfort, sound, mind, and community. That all means that, from top-notch air quality to non-toxic building materials to a community-building open environment, this location has it all.
Every part of this community is purposefully designed with safety and wellness in mind. The walls are painted in warm earthy tones to induce calm. The rooms are open and flow into each other while allowing plenty of natural light, all of which creates a more welcoming environment. The air quality is high, so that residents, their visiting loved ones, and staff members can all breathe easy. The result is a community that is both inviting and safe.
New York isn’t the only place with exceptionally green retirement communities, however. 30+ Sunrise Senior Living communities have received the EPA’s prestigious ENERGY STAR award. That means that these communities perform within the top 25% of similar buildings across the country for energy efficiency. Sunrise communities shine thanks to their rigorous maintenance program, which upkeeps their stellar HVAC&R systems, lighting systems, and laundry and kitchen operations. Their staff members are also careful about their own energy usage, further keeping energy consumption to a minimum.
Atria Senior Living is also doing its part to ensure the planet is not just healthy for residents, but their descendants, too. Their green practices have earned them several sustainability certifications, including the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) distinction from the U.S. Green Building Council. From using recyclable carpets to installing energy-efficient windows to using eco-friendly landscaping methods, there isn’t much that Atria’s sustainable mindset hasn’t considered.
All in all, if you needed good news today, here it is: the future of senior living is brighter, safer, and greener than ever before!