For those in the design and architecture profession, sustainable design is part of the culture these days. But with the expanding population of 76 million baby boomers, designing a “sustainable life” at home may just be the next big “sustainable design” trend.
Research by several groups indicates that large numbers of boomers are concerned about mobility, healthcare costs and dependence on families, as well as access to government services. But surveys also highlight the concerns boomers have about how and where they will live in order to “sustain” their own personal independence. The result? The demand for more options in age-appropriate housing will only increase.
Since the best place to spend retirement years would be in a home of one’s own choosing, it makes sense to create spaces that combine both safe, secure and barrier-free concepts with green, eco-friendly choices for the ultimate boomer interior. By making a few simple choices such as high efficiency appliances, solar-supportive power sources, low-maintenance fabrics and furnishings, and interior finishes that support good indoor air quality, boomers will be able to live in their own healthy places for a much longer period of time.
Some of the most basic ideas that combine both sustainable and age-friendly solutions include: abundant lighting using LED and compact florescent light sources, hard surface flooring like cork and wood from sustainably managed forests, cabinets finished with low or no volatile organic compounds, and water, heat and cooling systems with Hepa-type filtrations.
Other concepts include showers with temperature and water flow settings, taller toilet seats with dual flush controls, smart-control thermostats with large readable displays, auto-controlled window treatments that screen out the sun’s glare and harmful rays and solid surface quartz countertops that inhibit the growth of bacteria.
“Sustainable living” is the next wave and design professionals should not ignore it. Opportunities for a new trend in business await those who will think “beyond green.” And even better, the impact that designers can make on the quality of life for our boomer clients will be invaluable.
Written by Michael A. Thomas, FASID, CAPS, DAASE for ASID's News Magazine ICON.