Thursday, December 18, 2014

Green Retirement Residences: 3 Case Studies (Features, Joint Ventures & Finance)

Green buildings are growing and as baby boomers age their is a massive increase in demand for seniors housing. The number of retirement residences has grown alongside this demand. Here are three case studies that highlight sustainability features of a green retirement facility, as well as the kind of joint ventures and financing options that exist for such residences.

Features of a Green Retirement Retirement Residence (PARC Retirement Living)


Summerhill PARC in North Vancouver was the first retirement residence built by PARC Retirement Living. As builders they are committed to quality retirement residences that incorporate green building practices and architectural beauty, as well as meeting top standards for safety and durability.


PARC seeks out and employs leading sustainability practices and ‘green’ building practices that:
  • Reduce energy use
  • Reduce greenhouse gases
  • Reduce water use and wasteful lighting

Their accomplishments include
  • LEED Gold Standard certification for Cedar Springs PARC and Westerleigh PARC. Both buildings have been designed to minimize their impact on the environment
  • Gas and hot water measurement metres to measure and actively reduce consumption
  • Replace invasive species on the grounds
  • Minimize buildings’ footprints to conserve as much natural area as possible
  • Storm water management systems
  • Use of electric vehicles whenever possible

They also
  • Use green housekeeping products
  • Encourage their staff to take transit
  • Recycle (paper, batteries, bulbs, bags and cartridges)
  • install efficient lighting

Joint Venture (Mercy Ridge)


Many of these projects involve joint ventures in which two or more organizations team up. One such example is Mercy Ridge in Baltimore, Maryland. Their buildings are certified by the U.S. Green Building Council®. This seniors facility is professionally managed by CRSA/LCS Management LLC (A Life Care Services Company). It is a joint venture of Mercy Health Services and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Finance (Renaissance Retirement Residence)


The Renaissance Retirement Residence in Regina, Saskatchewan, is a green building with many environmentally friendly features including energy efficiency. The building has 30 solar panels on the roof to provide for space heating and hot water. The solar heating system is integrated with a system of geothermal wells with 54 boreholes to a depth of close to 150 metres (500 feet). This integration maximizes the seasonal efficiency of both systems.

It is a converted office building that offers affordable and market units to low and moderate income seniors who can still live independently. This conversion started in 2005 and was completed late in 2006. The work was carried out by a private company with support from all three levels of government (Federal, Provincial and Municipal). The government assistance enabled 80 of the 157 units to be offered as affordable accommodation (25 per cent below market rates).

The Province of Saskatchewan and CMHC provided direct grants, and the City of Regina provided tax relief for five years. Provincial and federal funding was provided under the Saskatchewan government’s HomeFirst initiative, which had just been launched. HomeFirst was a five-year plan that included among its objectives the development of 2,000 additional affordable units under the federal-provincial Affordable Housing Initiative (known in Saskatchewan as the Centenary Affordable Housing Program, or CAHP) by 2008.

The project budget was $14.5 million, financed through private investment, mortgage financing and funding of $2.1 million from CAHP ($1,055,000 from CMHC and $845,000 from the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation). In addition, the City of Regina provided a five-year property tax exemption, valued at $211,000.

This $2.1 million was provided as a loan forgivable on a pro-rata basis over 10 years on condition that 80 units were maintained as affordable housing. The rents of these units have to be kept at least $200 per month less than the rental portion of the accommodation charges for unsubsidized units. As of June 30, 2012, pro-rata forgiveness of the loan had brought the total owing down by more than a half, to $890,000.

Regal Lifestyle Communities, a retirement home company, acquired Renaissance Retirement Residence in October 2012 with funds raised from its initial public offering. Due to strong demand Regal plans to expand the residence by adding seven more market suites. These will be within the existing structure in a previously undeveloped space. The total cost of this expansion is expected to be approximately $1.2 million.

In 2008, the Renaissance won an “Award of Merit” at the Saskatchewan Masonry Design Awards.

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