By Ted Rollins
As the U.S. economy continues to shift toward embracing sustainability, senior and assisted-living options are also changing in response to socioeconomic issues. Bold new ideas, innovative “green” products and sustainability breakthroughs are factors necessary to stay competitive in today’s market.
New trends offer a wide range of options for senior Americans including eco-friendly housing and expanded amenities at traditional assisted-living facilities. By embedding sustainability into the infrastructure of these properties, companies can help drive innovation and cater to their residents, while reducing both their overhead and carbon footprint.
Important for the environment
In order to preserve the world around us, companies across all sectors have to start taking responsibility of their role in the environment. For assisted-living facilities in particular, all building materials and features should align with eco-friendly standards and certifications.
Newly-developed properties are embracing eco-friendly construction, in which recycled or local materials are used to build the infrastructure. Ecological building developed in response to the knowledge that buildings often have a negative impact on our natural resources.
Features of resource-efficient, ecological building of assisted-living facilities can include:
- Replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs
- Cleaning with products that exclude toxins
- Serving locally grown produce
- Using bamboo flooring instead of wood
- Replacing regular appliances with energy-efficient options
- Installing rooftop solar panels
- Providing increased insulation
- Adhering to high indoor-air quality standards
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified (LEED)
- Using native landscaping to reduce water waste
Cost-efficient in the long run
As supply levels remain uncertain and energy costs continue to rise, companies have to look at energy-efficiency programs that aim to reduce energy costs. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a report stating energy efficiency is the cheapest method of providing Americans with electricity. Other key findings show the reliability of efficiency as a long-term resource as both electricity and natural gas efficiency programs have remained consistently low-cost resources.
In fact, based on cost-per-kilowatt saved, energy efficiency can be cheap.
For existing assisted-living facilities, whole-building audits can calculate energy measurements specific to each building. In addition, instead of costly equipment replacement, upgrades and small improvements can make systems run more efficiently. In some cases, rebates, tax incentives and financing options are available to companies taking advantage of energy efficiency. In summary, we can no longer afford to underinvest in these types of programs that can potentially save money
Attract potential residents
As consumer interest shifts toward eco-friendly lifestyles, assisted-living properties are emphasizing the importance of an ever-expanding variety of amenities. As retirees age and require help with daily activities, they can now choose from diverse settings that reflect their lifestyle choices while still meeting their physical needs.
Residents are now gravitating toward boutique amenities that enhance their quality of life including:
- Interactive meal experiences with multiple spaces and styles of dining
- Resort-caliber spas and fitness rooms
- Entertainment options
- Comprehensive wellness programs that include medical care onsite
- Hotel-type amenities for short-term rehab residents
- Integrated use of technology including Wi-Fi and access to mobile devices such as tablets
- The use of biophillic design: a design revolution connecting buildings to the natural world; potentially reducing the stress and enhancing the moods of the residents
Residents of assisted-living facilities and their families are now expecting these types of creative developments with luxury perks and won’t settle for less. As baby boomers are now shaping the industry, the diversity of their preferences must be taken into consideration. Sustainable properties built with eco-friendly features that provide sophisticated amenities will continue to evolve rapidly in this industry.
Image credit: Pixabay
Ted W. Rollins, Co-Chairman and Founding Principal of Valeo Groupe, is a seasoned real estate entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience in real estate investment banking, development, structured finance, start-up businesses and construction. He is focused on niche opportunity investing in both real estate and financial service sectors, particularly those that balance economic, environmental and social outcomes.