EnviroCitizen.org has found that generation "Y" is not the only community of people joining the green movement! Young and old alike are becoming more eco-conscious; even senior citizens are trying to live greener. Unfortunately, searches for green retirement communities generally only turn up developments with green in their titles, though they're not green at all. It is important to distinguish the truly green retirement communities from those that advertise themselves as eco-sensitive to take advantage of seniors' environmental interests-never delivering true sustainability or green strategies.
Topretirements.com is a practical resource to help the retiring baby boomers evaluate environmentally responsible, active adult communities. The list below was written by Carol Gulyas of GreenGeezer.com. This practical guide to green standards explains what to look for in a sustainable community, and what to take with a grain of salt. For example, just because a community shows a picture of an ecologist doesnt mean the community actually meets any green standards. Key considerations to look for include water and energy conservation, access to public transportation, use of recycled or local materials and indoor air quality. The article includes many links to additional helpful resources.
A true green community or home, according to Gulyas:
- Meets or beats the EPA's Energy Star standards - http://www.energystar.gov/
- Achieves high standards of indoor air quality
- Uses building materials that are locally produced and or/recycled
- Incorporates water conservation and storm water management
- Achieves a minimal footprint on the land
- Keeps carbon emissions low through use of renewable energy or super-efficient building envelopes
Be careful of communities that talk about protecting natural resources, environmental quality and biodiversity without any solid evidence to proof it's nothing more than greenwashing. A green standard has been developed for private homes and has been implemented nationwide. If there are communal buildings in the development you are investigating, see if those meet the LEED certification or ENERGY STAR standards. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The ENERGY STAR has developed energy standards for homes.
If you are seeking a green community that is not age-segregated you might want to consider some alternative forms of community. One place to start is the Co-Housing Association of the United States. Co-housing is a growing movement, originating in Europe, in which members own their own homes but share some elements (such as a large community building, major tools and other large expensive items) in common. Sustainability is a central concern, starting with the footprint the development makes on the land. Clustering homes together facing into a common play/garden area means neighbors see one another every day. The use of renewable energy and water management methods are common. Multiple generations keep older people from isolation and let them be part of youngsters' lives.
EnviroCitizen.org has found that there are lots of ways to find a green place to retire. This guide can help you find one that will be comfortable, safe, eco-friendly and fulfilling.