Shining a light on sustainability

Seabrook’s solar field and other efforts promote environmental stewardship

Created date

March 26th, 2020
Seabrook’s solar field faces south at a tilt of ten degrees. The height of the back panel stands approximately seven-and-a-half-feet high. It will produce approximately 20%–25% of Seabrook’s annual electric load.

Seabrook’s solar field faces south at a tilt of ten degrees. The height of the back panel stands approximately seven-and-a-half-feet high. It will produce approximately 20%–25% of Seabrook’s annual electric load.

April 22, 2020, will mark the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day. According to the website, earthday.org, “The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action. The enormous challenge—but also the vast opportunities—of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the fiftieth anniversary.”

Organizations big and small are recognizing the need to go green. Even retirement communities are jumping on board. For example, Seabrook, a continuing care retirement community off Essex Rd., near the Jersey Shore Premium Outlets in Tinton Falls N.J., has made commitments to fostering sustainability efforts through their daily operations.

“We define sustainability as our commitment to being good stewards of the environment by reducing, reusing, and recycling energy, waste, and water,” says Debra Doyle, chief operating officer of Erickson Living, Seabrook’s management company. “Weaving sustainability into our culture of operational excellence at Erickson Living is part of our journey toward continuous improvement.”

In Erickson Living’s 2017 survey of more than 600 prospective senior living residents from its advisory board, 96% indicated an interest in green aspects of senior living.

When it comes to specific environmental aspects, prospects consider energy-efficient windows, low-volatile organic compound products, recycling, and LED lighting most important. 

“These elements are standard in our community and apartment homes,” says Seabrook Sales Director Dan Simms. “Our prospects are often surprised and relieved to learn how relatively small our environmental footprint actually is.” 

Seabrook’s solar field

One of the most significant sustainability efforts from Seabrook comes in the form of solar energy. 

In September 2016, Seabrook joined Fortune 500 companies, such as Walmart, Macy’s, and IKEA, along with hundreds of other U.S. businesses that have gone solar, to offset 890,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. That’s when Seabrook began using its 13,320 solar panels after nearly a year of planning and construction. The four-megawatt system produces 20%–25% of Seabrook’s electrical usage and saves at least $250,000 a year in energy costs. 

Electric is one of many monthly household costs included in each apartment home’s monthly service package. The convenient, fixed monthly fee also includes all other utilities except telephone, a flexible meal plan, use of all amenities, and property taxes. 

“By lowering the community’s overall cost for electricity, we’re able to keep our monthly service package consistent and affordable year over year,” says Simms. “Residents and future residents can appreciate this positive change.”

Bob Gamble, who served as Resident Advisory Council president in 2015, says savings to the monthly service package wasn’t the only reason the community favored a solar field. “When you improve the cash flow, you can do other things,” he says.

Residents and staff can even monitor the solar energy at two electrical meters on campus, one located in Village Center Clubhouse and one located in Town Square.

Adjacent to the community off of Essex Road, the south-facing solar field is surrounded by berms and trees, protecting the views from Essex Road and Seabrook’s security gate. 

Other efforts

Aside from solar energy, Seabrook’s physical footprint keeps sustainability in mind, especially as it updates its existing buildings. 

By using sustainable heating and cooling systems, LED lighting, water conservation, and robust recycling efforts, Seabrook continues to minimize its impact on the environment.

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