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Sustainable Design Keeps Boomers In Their Place
Creating a safe and secure home is about sustaining the quality of life for the 76 million baby boomers now contemplating their life as they move to their retirement.
By: Design Collective Group, Inc.
Sustainability and green design often refer to the use of products that can be recycled or selecting materials that use less of the planets resources to manufacture or use. But Michael A. Thomas, FASID, a Palm Springs, CA. interior designer who specializes in creating environments for baby boomers says it can also refer to the ability to sustain a high quality of life, ensuring health, safety and security while remaining in the home of one’s choosing.
According to Thomas, his idea of sustainable spaces refers to any home designed with features that support independency. For baby boomers who are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 every day, the concept of sustaining one’s independency is an important consideration.
“Sustainable aging in place isn’t just the grab bar in the shower but also the use of water purification systems, application of paints and finishes that produce few or no volatile organic compounds and the installation of mechanical or electronic air filtration systems to reduce pollution in the environment,”
For those with chronic health issues, the quality of indoor air is vital. Particulates in the air including dust, pet dander, smoke, pollen, and those from combustion appliances such as cooking stoves can contribute to or become health hazards. High levels of humidity can spur the growth of mold, mildew, bacteria and viruses that can lead to asthma, sinusitis or bronchitis and viral infections like colds. He also suggests the use of natural "green" cleaning products to replace petroleum-based or synthetic chemicals in the home.
Safety is another component of sustainable spaces. Falling at home is the leading cause of unintentional injury to Americans 65 and older based on a report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Thomas says solutions are simple: hard surface floors with slip resistance finishes, motion-activated lighting to illuminate pathways between rooms, level thresholds at the doorways and showers without curbs.
Sustainability and aging in place can also work in tandem to sustain boomers’ pocketbooks by lowering the costs of home ownership such as reducing energy consumption thru the use of compact florescent lighting, choosing materials and finishes that reduce interior and exterior maintenance, adding passive solar heating and cooling systems and programmable thermostats. By raising the temperature of the air conditioner just one degree, there is a saving of 3-4 percent of cooling costs and each degree down while heating saves 3 percent of heating costs.
“We can certainly recycle, repurpose and reuse materials to help sustain our cities and towns but at the end of the day, if one’s home creates challenges to our personal health and independence, we loose an opportunity to sustain our quality of life,” Thomas added. “And these techniques are appropriate no matter age or ability.”
He will be sharing his insights in a presentation on May 14, 2013 at his Palm Springs studio, Design Pure and Simple, entitled, “Designs For Independency – Ten Things to Sustain Your Home And Age-In-Place.”