June 16, 2015 — It is the rare person who doesn’t at least give some nod toward being green in various aspects of life. It might only be grudging recycling efforts or turning off some lights, but the spirit is usually there, somewhere. But would you make your environmental concerns a requirement for finding a suitable place to retire?
If there are many people like that out there they are probably having a hard time finding such a place. Using the Advanced Search Feature at Topretirements we found we have 23 communities (out of about 3000) that are self-described as “Sustainable”, another way of saying
green. While many of those have plenty to brag about, a few of them could be making claims that aren’t backed up by the facts, such as a LEED certification at some level.
A reporter from the New York Times recently interviewed your editor on this topic, in which we both lamented the difficulty of finding green places to retire. While many baby boomers are interested in the concept of being green, it is rarely the major factor. The paper persevered and recently published an interesting article, “Demand and Expectations Grow for Green Retirement Communities“. The article lists several such communities, reviews the various standards for measuring “greenness”, and just as interestingly, interviews several baby boomers who live in environmentally caring communities. Here are a few highlights. According to the article, the few green communities there are have long waiting lists of eager buyers.
LEED certification, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars to achieve, is the most accurate measure of environmental sustainability. It comes in 4 levels of certification, from Certified through Platinum. The Silver level is a common achievement for retirement communities according to the Times. Some of the measures a community might employ to get LEED certified are energy efficiency through passive solar and solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, energy efficient building materials, recycled building materials, landscaping that does not require much water or pesticides, water conservation, waste recycling/composting, and buying food locally or growing it organically on premises. Energy Star appliances meet goals for low energy consumption and are a “green” sign.
Some communities have met LEED’s goals but have not gone through the certification process because of expense or time. But one should be wary about claims for “eco-friendly”, “sustainable”, etc. Some, but not all, are hollow boasts. Ask questions and verify unsubstantiated claims if this is important to you.
The Times mentioned at least 4 eco-friendly communities in the article. Most of those are more Life Care than active adult in nature. The 4 included Timber Ridge in Issaquah Washington, Atria Woodbriar Place in Falmouth MA, Wake Robin in Shelbourne VT, and Rose Villa in Portland OR. In interviews with various residents they expressed happiness with living in a community that tries to preserve the environment while reducing energy consumption.
For further reading
Topretirements Blog – Green Retirement Communities (11 articles)
Are you looking to live in a green retirement community? If so what have you found in your research? Do you know of any interesting communities the Topretirements Members should know about? Please share your ideas and experiences in the Comments section below.