Eco-friendly senior complexes
Given the growing consumer interest in eco-friendly lifestyles, it's not surprising that many senior living centers are going green.
Beyond recycling, such communities are replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescents, using cleaning products that exclude toxins, serving locally grown produce and replacing old appliances with more energy-efficient models to reduce their carbon emissions.
Some newer properties also offer eco-friendly construction in which materials are produced locally or recycled.
When shopping for a planet-friendly assisted living facility, however, it's buyer beware, says Suzanne Modigliani, a geriatric care manager in Boston.
In a practice known as "greenwashing," some businesses falsely claim to be eco-friendly for marketing appeal.
Ask point-blank what they're doing for the greater good of the environment.
Do they use native landscaping to reduce water waste, for example? Do their appliances meet the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star standards? Do they adhere to high indoor-air quality standards?
You can also ask if common areas, including dining and recreation areas, are certified as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED.
Pathway Senior Living in Des Plaines, Illinois, for example, which owns and operates more than a dozen senior living facilities, recently obtained LEED certification for its Victory Centre of South Chicago community, but all of its properties emphasize eco-friendly features.