Sustainability | Renewable Energy

Green Retirement Living Options

Why Green Retirement Living Options for Older Adults Are Booming

By Beth Rush


Getting older doesn’t mean caring less about the planet. However, many things that benefit Mother Earth also do marvelous things for humans.

The perks of green retirement living extend beyond decreasing your carbon footprint and improving your overall quality of life. 

Why should you consider green retirement living? What features should you seek in such a community, and what are your eco-friendly options for aging in place?

Here’s why these options are booming among older adults and how you can plan for your later years. 

What Makes Retirement Living “Green” 


Green retirement living communities vary. However, they often share these four similar attributes. 

1. Renewable Energy

Many green retirement living communities run on renewable energy. Many older adults prefer to “fly south,” and sunny regions like the desert southwest are custom-made for solar power generation. Facilities in colder, cloudier climates may rely on geothermal energy, which uses the constant underground temperatures produced inside the earth to maintain a consistent, comfortable indoor climate without fossil fuels. 

Relying on renewable energy not only helps the planet but increases safety and security. For example, facilities on hybrid solar systems can switch between off-grid and on-grid functionality.

Suppose a larger power outage takes down area service. In that case, the retirement living community can generate sufficient power independently to run medical devices and lights that allow assisted care teams to operate. 

2. Water Conservation 

Water conservation measures can take many forms in green retirement living communities. One example is using rainwater harvesting systems to preserve what falls from the sky for use in gardens. Another is low-flow bathroom fixtures, including motion-activated faucets that protect hands from germs while eliminating the possibility of leaving an unheard tap running. 

3. Waste Management 

Waste management is an often overlooked area of conservation in parts of the United States. For example, single-use plastics create tons of medical waste, even as they protect patients. Many such facilities take proactive measures to decrease its use. 

Furthermore, on-site recycling and composting decrease the amount of waste dumped into landfills. Landfills release methane when organic matter decays, which is a greenhouse gas heavier than carbon. 

4. Environmentally Conscious Activities 

Many green retirement living facilities emphasize environmental consciousness through their choices of recreational activities. For example, gardening inspires physical activity and getting outdoors while making good use of compost bin contents and supplying residents with fresh, organic food. Some facilities may load residents onto electric buses to visit inspiring natural settings, such as state and national parks. 

Benefits of Green Retirement Living Communities


Choosing a green retirement living community delivers serious benefits beyond conserving the planet for your grandchildren and their future generations. 

1. Provides a Social Outlet

Choosing a green retirement living community increases the odds that your new neighbors will share your values. Making new connections is easier when you already have something in common. 

2. Encourages Physical and Mental Health 

The emphasis on caring for the planet equates to activities that benefit health. For example, older adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity daily, and raking, hoeing and weeding the garden may elevate their heart rate sufficiently.

Sharing walks with others around beautifully manicured grounds promotes physical and mental wellness. 

3. Lends a Sense of Meaning and Purpose 

Many older adults struggle with a loss of their sense of purpose after raising their children and leaving the workforce. Choosing a green retirement living community reminds them that their efforts and decisions still make a powerful difference in the world. 

Green Senior Living in the Wider Community


As beneficial as green retirement living communities are, moving to one can be cost-prohibitive for some older adults. However, such residential living arrangements aren’t the only way to carry your eco-friendly ideals forward at any age. 

For example, multigenerational living was once the norm and remains so in many cultures. Housing several generations under one roof is in itself eco-friendly as fewer residences equate to less energy and materials used for building and maintenance.

This lifestyle eases economic fears among younger and older family members alike. Many young people today struggle with enormous housing costs, feeling homeownership is out of reach. 

Such arrangements benefit more than pocketbooks. Older adults have more assurance someone can help them if they experience a health emergency. Members of the younger generation have additional help with household chores and child-rearing, responsibilities that need tending even when rent and mortgage payments demand dual incomes. 

Housing everyone may entail converting an empty basement into an ADU or adding such a building to the property — but the environmental cost of doing so pales besides building a whole new home.

Families can choose sustainable options, and the combined forces of several incomes can fund additional eco-friendly improvements to keep the family’s entire footprint lower. 

For example, converting to solar requires an upfront investment but pays off in lower utility bills — which continue long after you pay the installation fee. These savings pass on to whoever holds the family homestead, making this upgrade a lovely gift to the planet and grandkids alike. 

Likewise, gardening takes time. However, older adults in such arrangements can supplement family meals with fresh organic produce while passing on this skill to the youngest family members. Doing so decreases the need for trips to the store, and using organic methods like natural pest control preserves soil quality for future generations. 

The bottom line? You can reap the benefits of green retirement living even if you don’t move to a separate residential facility. 

Green Retirement Living Options

Green living in retirement gives your older adult life a sense of meaning and purpose that can get lost after leaving the workforce. Whether you opt for an eco-friendly residential facility or opt for sustainable, multigenerational living, you can continue to make a difference to the planet for life.

Whichever you choose, green retirement living provides oodles of perks for you and Mother Earth. 

About the author: Beth Rush is the green wellness editor at Body+Mind, where she covers topics like the power of climate consciousness at all stages of education. You can find Beth on Twitter @bodymindmag. Subscribe to Body+Mind for more posts by Beth!


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