Retirement Communities Are Going Green

As seniors plan for retirement, a new option has emerged: the “green” retirement community.  One such facility, Birches at Chambers Senior Community, has opened in Ulster, New York.  The community not only features state-of-the-art accessible housing, but was built with energy efficiency in mind.

Joseph Malcarne, a contractor involved in the construction of the facility, said that the design was intended to be environmentally friendly and healthy for the residents.  The facility accommodates seniors in various stages of aging, and it was designed as an age-in-place community.  This type of design is popular, but also creates challenges.  The air circulation system had to be designed in such a way that airborne germs could not circulate from one area to another, and senior sensitivity to temperature was also a concern.

The solution was a separate ventilator system for each individual unit, which regularly exchanges fresh outside air.  The community also features solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, which came from a local source, further reducing the carbon footprint.  The energy efficiency measures earned the development a platinum rating from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The development comprises 66 units and includes a fitness studio, computer lab, and community room.  The entire community is wheelchair-accessible, including a gazebo and patios.

The community’s first resident, Cindy Grill, took up residence in 2010.  Grill had lived in another Birchez facility, but after a stroke confined her to a wheelchair, she needed an accessible home.  Vinnie Organtini, a subcontractor who helped build the development, organized his crew to help her move in.

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