A Different Take on "Green" Housing

There is a popular trend toward environmentally friendly buildings, those that take special efforts to decrease the “footprints” of the structures. This includes everything from reusing materials to installing the most efficient heating and cooling systems, and energy star-rated appliances. Some even shoot for the prestigious LEEDS certification, the highest “seal of approval” of high-performance green buildings.

But Dr. Bill Thomas has a different idea about "green" housing. According to a Wall Street Journal article, his green houses represent, “an eight-year-old movement to replace large nursing homes with small, homelike facilities for 10 to 12 residents.” His efforts are being supported significantly by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The foundation is hoping that through its support, Green Houses will soon be erected in all 50 states, up from the 41 Green Houses now in 10 states.” The project started in 2003, with the first houses built in Tupelo, Mississippi. According to U.S. News and World Report , in 2006, after “an intensive evaluation…documented their success, Thomas…teamed up with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to replace more than 100 nursing homes nationwide with clusters of small, cozy houses, each sheltering eight to 10 residents in private rooms, with private bathrooms and an open kitchen. In other words, a place like home.”

Thomas’ vision of his green houses are as, “gardens that grow people."

As our population ages, we may all become more aware of our living options once we can no longer live alone. While the entrenched nursing home industry currently sets the standard for what that life is like, thankfully people like Thomas and organizations like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are offering healthy, dignified alternatives.

Caroline Heine

Posted at 8:10 AM, Jun 25, 2008 in Aging | Health | Social Entreprenuers | Permalink | Comment