Grant Positions Senior Living Nonprofit for Affordable, Green Design

Through a fellowship granting Presbyterian Senior Living the opportunity to work with a designated architect for three years, the organization plans to target and optimize sustainability and affordability in the coming months.

Presbyterian Senior Living, a not-for-profit that operates more than 30 communities across four states including Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Ohio, was awarded an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship for 2014, granting the organization three years to work with architectural fellow Shelly-Anne Tulia Scott, a LEED AP and registered architect and interior designer currently based in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania.

While still a fresh partnership among Scott and PSL, the pair has big plans under way for their work together, from functionality, sustainability and efficiency of existing buildings to advice on future developments. At the same time, PSL is working to develop benchmarks and design specifications that can be used across the network of communities it operates.

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“Our development process has been very evolutionary,” said Jim Bernardo, COO of Presbyterian Senior Living, in an interview with SHN. “As we look at our continued growth, this is probably the first time we have endeavored to create replicable design specifications.”

PSL is particularly focused on working with Scott to improve its design process as it relates to sustainability as well as affordability—two areas the organization expects to grow and improve in the coming months and years.

“We are researching new materials that can be used that will meet sustainability standards,” Scott says, noting an eye toward energy efficiency. “In other projects we have seen cost savings within a five to 10 year period, and there’s more to this energy saving standard and payback period. That’s one area I’ll be focusing on with PSL.”

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Grant money under the fellowship will allow for research in this area, as well as in bringing costs to consumers down in what PSL calls addressing a “donut hole” that currently exists between residents who can afford luxury prices and those who can qualify for needs-based subsidized housing.

“One of the real challenges that faces our industry is making affordable housing available. When we talk about affordable housing, we often times are talking about products that are subsidized or supported through some government program,” Bernardo says. “However, there is a whole other crisis in rems of availability of high-quality age-specific housing utilizing universal design concepts for seniors in that space between making too much to qualify for any form of subsidized program and those who don’t’ have enough to afford a higher end market rate product.”

PSL has made some progress on the affordability front, but says there’s a great opportunity to grow and improve and that it will work through the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship toward that goal.

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“We are ecstatic,” Bernardo says. “In reality, this is an opportunity for us from multiple perspectives; it allows us to have a person on our team who is a member of our team helping us to shape what contracted design teams and architects, do for us.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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