As much as we talk about the costs of retiring, it’s interesting to note that cost doesn’t simply refer to the money involved in purchasing a dream retirement.
Now that the oldest Baby Boomers are old enough to be thinking about retirement, many of them have the notion that their retirement lifestyle should be green, or environmentally sustainable. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising since they practically invented the Green Movement – don’t email, we’re not ignoring Muir and the other notables of Environmental History, we’re just making the point that Boomers are green, have been since before the first Earth Day, and have the socio-political clout to make it a priority, okay?
Sadly, this keen interest has led some homebuilders and developers to attempt to attract Boomers without really delivering a sustainable product. They cloud the issue by using language suggesting environmental sensitivity without pointing to anything tangible in their product to support the claim. Environmentalists call the practice “Greenwashing”
Fortunately, a “green” standard has been developed for private homes. It’s called the LEED certification standards. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit, non-government entity that seeks to change the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated.
The standard for private homes is in its pilot phase, but the commercial green standard has been implemented nationwide. While you’re looking at glossy brochures of 55+ Active Adult Retirement Communities, look at the communal buildings in the development you and see if those meet the LEED standards, which are in a nutshell, any community or home that
- 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
Another good way to ensure that you’re retiring green is to look into regions or cities that are in the forefront of green practices. Redmond, Washington is a good example. Smarter Cities, a project of the Natural Resources Defense Council calls Redmond “a city to watch” because it’s bike friendly, has good mass transit, and the city promotes green building and native species yard care.
While you’re looking around Redmond, check out Trilogy at Redmond Ridge. Trilogy is an active adult 55+ community that’s built by Shea Homes. Trilogy homes are Shea Green Certified, which is not only environmentally sound, but will save homeowners about $1800 per year in utility costs.
If you’ve never heard of Shea Homes, rest assured that they’ve been on the forefront of Green Building Practices since long before it became trendy. In 2008, they were the first national builder to make solar power systems an included option on new homes, and all Shea Green Certified homes are built with a combination of the most important and cost-effective standards for green residential building set by LEED.
In addition to solar power systems, features often incorporated by Shea Homes include solar attic fans, wood from sustainable forests, framing techniques that use up to 10 percent less wood (saving 5.5 trees per home), leak minimizing construction techniques (sealed ducts and penetrations), Energy Star-rated efficient appliances, 14 SEER air conditioning units, dual pane low-e windows, and motion and occupancy sensor lighting.
One poll commissioned by Harris Interactive/Trilogy by Shea Homes found that baby boomers “rank solar technology as the single most important feature of a green home, followed by energy-efficient appliances and dual pane windows.”
In September 2008, J.D. Power and Associates ranked Trilogy by Shea Homes highest in customer satisfaction among the largest active adult community new home builders in 33 U.S. markets. Trilogy’s green homes exceed the International Energy Code for energy efficiency by approximately 30 percent, and they undergo 20 different tests and inspections by an independent third party to achieve their green certification.
So if you’re serious about your commitment to that Green Retirement, take a good look at Trilogy Redmond Ridge.