Brookdale sustainability efforts lead to 2.42% cut in energy use

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A Regency Oaks Clearwater resident shows Brookdale Director of Sustainability Marla Thalheimer the mobile, solar-powered unit he constructed as a backup power source for his apartment.
A Regency Oaks Clearwater resident shows Brookdale Director of Sustainability Marla Thalheimer the mobile, solar-powered unit he constructed as a backup power source for his apartment.

Brookdale Senior Living continued to make strides toward reaching its sustainability-related goals in 2016, reducing energy use by 2.42% in the communities it owns or operates compared with 2015, the company said in a report released Monday.

And although overall water consumption for the country's largest senior living operator increased by 0.38% in 2016 compared with 2015, it decreased an average of 4.25% in communities where the company piloted projects that swapped inefficient toilets, showerheads and aerators for high-efficiency fixtures; compared “smart” irrigation controllers versus manual operation methods; or added real-time visibility of water usage and its effects, Brookdale said.

Greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 were reduced by 3.5% over the 2015 baseline, according to the company.

The 2017 Sustainability Report, which follows the inaugural report released last year, highlights achievements in 2016, the year the company adopted its sustainability strategy. Efforts are led by the company's Sustainability Leadership Council, a cross-functional group of professionals, President and CEO Andy Smith wrote in an introduction to the new report.

Brookdale has more than 90 million square feet of building space across more than 1,000 communities in 46 states, according to the report. Overall, Brookdale said, the company hopes to achieve a carbon and energy reduction of 15% by 2019 compared with the its 2015 baseline.

“Through conversations with residents over the years, we recognize that seniors maintain a keen desire to influence the future. They continue to be concerned about making the world a better place for younger generations, including generations that are yet to be born,” Smith wrote. “Simply put, our residents see sustainability as an opportunity and a priority. And so do we.”

Some of the accomplishments noted in the report:

  • In 2016, 423 communities participated in a “Turn it Off” challenge, submitting ways to save energy and water, “from turning indoor lights off and doing activities outside in the fresh air to assigning a resident ‘lighthouse keeper' with a name badge and a checklist to make sure the lights are turned off daily.”
  • Resident “Green Teams” meet regularly to learn, discuss and work with Brookdale staff members to implement sustainability projects at the community level. For instance, a resident constructed solar panels to serve as backup power for his apartment at Regency Oaks Clearwater in Florida, and residents at Robin Run Village in Indianapolis started a recycling program, lobbied to rid the dining room of Styrofoam carryout containers and conducted an educational program on sustainability through posters and newsletter articles.
  • In conjunction with Earth Day, 422 corporate associates took the Greener Office Pledge to power down lights, computers and monitors at the end of each workday, use reusable cup and dishware and recycle as much as possible in their offices.
  • The first-ever Brookdale Supplier Sustainability Summit included 13 key suppliers and their sustainability leads. The company said it is encouraging suppliers to procure products in line with Brookdale's sustainability goals, improve processes related to product use and assist in managing waste and recycling.

Program goals for 2017, according to Brookdale, include developing and launching an educational series for residents, building out an internal intranet site to serve as a resource for all associates, working toward tracking sustainability metrics in key supplier quarterly business meetings and looking for ways to increase sustainability efforts with suppliers.

Read the report for additional information.

Photo from Brookdale's 2017 Sustainability Report used with permission from Brookdale and the resident pictured.

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