Eco-friendly Assisted Living
Do you worry about the effects your lifestyle has on the environment? Many baby boomers have tried their best over the years to develop eco-friendly habits and minimize their environmental footprint. No one wants to spend most of their life making an effort to be eco-friendly, only to end up at an assisted living facility that doesn’t make any environmental efforts at all.
Enough seniors have faced this frustration that the industry is taking heed and working to provide eco-friendly assisted living facilities.
What Green Assisted Living Looks Like
What constitutes “eco-friendly assisted living” is certainly a subject up for debate. There are a wide range of updates and actions an assisted living facility can consider to become more eco-friendly.
There are facilities that reduce their carbon footprint with various initiatives to reduce water and energy use, like installing low-flow toilets or using light bulbs that are more energy efficient. Some go further and use solar power or promise locally-grown food at meals.
There’s a pretty wide spectrum in how committed different facilities are to green living. Those doing the most work are able to snag a rare and difficult LEED certification. For a larger number of assisted living facilities, Energy Star provides scores for senior care facilities that can give you an idea of how well they rank on the eco-friendly scale.
The LEED Certification was developed in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as a way to encourage builders to pursue more eco-friendly options when planning and building new facilities.
They offer four levels of certification: certified, silver, gold, and platinum. Even the lowest level requires demonstrating that a facility has put some real effort into sustainability. As such, most assisted living facilities can’t afford the changes required to become LEED certified and those that do tend to be expensive.
Energy Star Score
Energy Star scores are a bit easier to obtain, although assisted living facilities do have to take an active step in participating, so not all senior care facilities have a score.
They look at how the size of facility compares to the the number of residents and electronic appliances. Facilities are scored on a scale of 0 to 100, those who earn a score of 75 or more are considered Energy Star certified.
Demand for Eco-Friendly Assisted Living Outpaces Supply
The good news is that a growing number of seniors concerned about their environmental influence can only be good for the world at large. The bad news is that the number of people interested in eco-friendly senior living is bigger than the number of facilities can accommodate. The New York Times recently reported that many green senior living facilities have five-year waiting lists. And the ones doing the most to shore up their eco-friendly bona fides are financially out of reach for the vast majority of seniors.
That means if you’re looking for an assisted living facility now, even if you’re lucky enough to have some serious money to spend, you may have a hard time finding a facility devoted to sustainability that has room for one more.
You may still be able to find a facility that’s making some efforts toward being more green though. When you go to visit an assisted living facility you’re considering, come prepared with a list of questions that will give you an idea of where they stand on sustainable efforts. Even assisted living facilities without an LEED certification often include gardens, recycle consistently, and use Energy Star certified appliances.
And the more potential residents ask about a retirement community’s sustainability efforts, the more pressure communities around the country will feel to improve their carbon footprint. Over time, the preferences of seniors will influence the sustainability of the larger industry.