It seems that every time you turn on the news, there is a report on the climate crisis and surprising trends in global warming. With a view to future generations, more and more pensioners are making environmentally conscious decisions about their senior life options.
In my book, What is the deal with pension plans? (This is a great gift for the holidays!) I discuss the importance of environmental sustainability for the future in the pension industry (CCRC or Life Plan Community).
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The environmentally friendly CCRC of tomorrow
I expect that this next generation of retirees will increase the demand for Energy and Environmental Design Leaders (LEED) who focus on energy, space and water efficiency, waste reduction and green use building materials.
I also suspect that we will see a greater emphasis on eco-friendly designs that include features such as solar energy, rainwater harvesting, low flow fittings, recycled building materials, daylighting, high efficiency lighting and more. Although some CCRC developers may not officially apply for LEED certification, they will still implement many of these sustainability features.
In order to reduce the carbon footprint of CCRCs being built now and in the future, accessibility and access to means of transport will become an increasingly important focus. Many new communities will seek to build in urban areas so that residents can walk or have easy access to shops, restaurants and entertainment centers. Of course, this provides a secondary benefit to the residents of CCRC as they increase their level of activity and their social interactions. The challenge for developers, however, is that land is more expensive in urban areas than in rural or less developed areas.
CCRCs of the future may also want to offer educational programs on sustainability issues to empower residents to contribute to the impact of local residents on environmental issues. Indeed, local governments may even want to think about informing their residents about the monthly energy savings so that the entire resident population feels they are getting involved. This also has the secondary benefit of giving residents a common focus and a reason for increased interactions.
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A future-oriented CCRC with a sustainable design
I read about it last week Willamette View, a CCRC in Milwaukee, recently set up a new eco-friendly building on its 27 acre campus. The North Pointe Building is a four-story, independent residential building with a range of earth-conscious features.
The roof of the building has solar panels and "living" carport roofs planted in sedums, a sun-hungry perennial succulent with water-bearing leaves. The units are equipped with Energy Star appliances and low-power LED lights, and are equipped with low-VOC inks and adhesives (short for volatile organic compounds) that do not generate hazardous fumes or gases. The trees that needed to be felled to make way for the construction were milled and the wood used in the lobby of the North Pointe building.
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The environmentally conscious pensioner
When the next generation of seniors reaches retirement age, I think we will put more emphasis on sustainable retirement communities. After all, this is the generation that grew up during the modern environmental movement that began in the 1960s with concern for air and water pollution and evolved into a movement for sustainability and environmental justice in the 1980s, when today's seniors raised their families.
Now, more and more retirees are thinking about what kind of world they will give their grandchildren and great grandchildren, and are accordingly making more environmentally conscious decisions for seniors. The CCRCs of the future should consider this important sustainability trend when making decisions about building materials and design.
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