When Pat Nottingham saw trash littering the banks of the creek in France near where she and her family lived from 1958 to 1968, she thought, "That would never happen in the U.S." Yet, when they returned home, she found the same fate had fallen on the riverbanks at home.
"That was the first time I became interested in environmental stewardship," she says.
Then, when one of her four children joined the National Park Service, in environmental waste, she began to learn more about the importance of sustainability. When she and her husband Bill moved to Wind Crest in 2007, starting the Environmental Concerns Group (formerly Go Green) was a natural next step.
Here to educate
Primarily an educational group at the Highlands Ranch, Colo., community managed by Erickson Living, Environmental Concerns publishes helpful articles in Wind Crest's monthly Gazette to encourage fellow neighbors to take steps toward sustainable living.
Whether the month's focus is on the Colorado drought, plastic, or recycling, community members can always expect to learn not only how to be better stewards of the environment, but why.
For inspiration and ideas, Pat and her three other group members—Pat Sells, Helen Swem, and Jonathan Ormes, scour environmental magazines like Friends of the Earth, Nature Conservancy, and National Parks.
Pat Sells clips articles each month for the group to discuss. Helen, whose husband worked for the National Parks Service, contributes interesting commentary. And Jonathan, who worked for NASA and became interested in climate change, brings a scientific eye to the discussion.
They also have been known to offer recommendations to Wind Crest's dining department, such as eliminating the use of plastic straws, to help in its effort to integrate green practices.
"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. "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 important.
"These elements are standard in our community and apartment homes," says Wind Crest Sales Director Krista Wagner. "As we've added new buildings, including the two newest—Summit Square and Quincy Point (opening summer and fall this year)—we've continued to incorporate more environmentally friendly building practices such as LED lighting and energy-efficient windows."
Pat Nottingham says that while the entire state of Colorado has a long way to go (it's half the national average when it comes to recycling), Wind Crest is making an effort by encouraging its 1,500 community members to switch to paperless billing, email news, and recycling.
Erickson Living-managed communities have saved more than six million sheets of paper a year just by changing printing practices. That's over 500 trees. "The administration is becoming more environmentally aware," Pat says.