Seniors Get Hip To Green In Chi-Town

Can the golden years be the green years, too? In Chicago, the answer is “yes” – at least for those seniors who call the Kenmore Senior Apartments home. This public housing development, recently renovated by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), has taken LEED Platinum for its green building design.

The Kenmore – once a griffitti-riddled building – underwent a gut rehab in 2010 and was rebuilt according to a new concept of the space developed by the Chicago architecture firm Holabird & Root. The firm said [PDF] its design for the 90,000-square-foot building allows for more daylighting, as well as passive solar heating and cooling.  Materials used during construction included those with a high amount of recycled content, and a minimum of volatile organic compounds. Low-flow plumbing fixtures conserve water use within the building, while rain gardens and a 7,00-square-foot green roof help to reduce stormwater runoff, while adding to tenents’ quality of life by creating open space.

Kenmore Senior Apartments

image via Chicago Housing Authority

To help residents get on board with their new green lifestyle, the Kenmore Senior Apartments participates in CHA’s Recycling Buyback Program, which allows residents in Kenmore and other CHA senior buildings to donate recyclables like aluminum cans, foil, tin cans, newspapers, cardboard, glass and plastic in exchange for funds that go back to the building for resident programs and events.

“It’s really effective in getting residents who wouldn’t normally be aware of recycling to recycle,” Bobby Irmiger, the CHA recycling coordinator, said in a statement. “Senior buildings in particular have seen an increase because of the ‘buy back’ model.”

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.