Thursday, June 26, 2008

Aging in place is green.

I came across an article yesterday that does a good job of covering a topic we've touched on here before--that aging in place is by definition a green approach to housing. There is so much stored energy in a home that you can never be greener by building something smaller, even if you downsize and use new technologies, so we shold be planning, designing and retrofitting our current homes to accomodate long life spans and a range of life situations. This article profiles Palo Alto architect Jon Stoumen. What I like most is many of the simple, lo tech, low cost design elements--like grape vines as heat reducing sun shades. And his philosophy about going green perfectly reflects our philosophy about aging in place--do what makes sense now, but plan for the future.

"We're going for universal access, so we've laid the groundwork for the elevator, but the clients won't need it for a long time. When they do need help getting up to the second floor, they'll be able to put the elevator in because we've planned for it with the infrastructure. It's one of the things about this house that will allow the owners to age in place. And I can't think of anything greener than aging in place. When you move, you throw a bunch of stuff away, new people move in and they remodel everything and throw a bunch more stuff away," Stoumen said. For that reason, the ground floor of the home is at grade. In the future, wheelchair access will not be a problem.

The model of planning for the elevator also follows Stoumen's idea that taking small steps toward greener living is a healthy way to think about environmental improvements. "People see all that you can do to make a home greener, and they think, 'I want it all now.' But not everyone can afford to do it all now. I think it's better to do what you can now and plan for the future," Stoumen said."

Read the complete article at :