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New Innovators Award category recognizes environmental stewardship efforts, promotes awareness of the environmental dimension of wellness
VANCOUVER--The International Council on Active Aging® (ICAA), an association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry, is pleased to announce the first-ever winner of the ICAA Green Award, a new category in the ICAA Innovators Awards program. ICAA’s annual awards honor those in the active-aging industry that are leading the way, setting new standards and making a difference in the lives of older adults. The Green Award specifically recognizes organizations that encourage environmental stewardship by creating and/or implementing eco-friendly products, services, processes, designs or programs in their settings. The winner of the 2010 ICAA Green Award is Valle Verde Retirement Community, located in Santa Barbara, California.
An American Baptist Homes of the West continuing care retirement community, Valle Verde “embarked on an ambitious path beginning in 2004 to become a model, sustainable community with an overall goal of carbon neutrality by 2030,” says Executive Director Ron Schaefer. “Through the collaboration of staff, residents and community board members, Valle Verde has reduced electricity use, decreased waste and increased recycling. At the same time, we are also generating more solar electricity, using reclaimed water and buying food from local farmers.”
Valle Verde’s Green Initiative expands every year. From using electric carts and an electric-and-solar-powered tram on campus, to the replacement of two 1,000,000 BTU water boilers with high-efficiency units, to participating in the City of Santa Barbara’s Foodscraps composting program, the nonprofit community’s collaborative efforts are helping the environment and improving quality of life on campus. A measure of the initiative’s success is utility cost savings that average more than $210,000 (US) per year, according to Schaefer.
Importantly, Valle Verde is not a new construction. Many improvements made by the 43-year-old community result from retrofitting existing structures to a greener standard and innovative thinking about how to reduce the community’s environmental impact. The “green” collaboration of residents, staff and board members “has a clear mission of making long-lasting benefits in the areas of water consumption, waste reduction and air pollution by making small, implementable steps,” Schaefer affirms. The initiative succeeds, he believes, because it involves everyone “in a better future.”
ICAA Founder and CEO Colin Milner finds there is a much greater, and deserved, focus on environmental wellness today. “The environment we live in, whether built or natural, has a huge impact on health and well-being,” Milner says—“it’s really an integral part of wellness.” At the start of 2010, ICAA expanded its multidimensional wellness model to include the environmental dimension, recognizing it as essential to wellness. ICAA’s GREEN Plan, launched in conjunction with that development, provides new environment-focused publications and opportunities for ICAA members, including a preconference series at the annual ICAA Conference. Finally, through the new Green Award category, the association honors those that strive to be better stewards of the environment, contributing to a healthier world.
“On behalf of ICAA, I congratulate Valle Verde on winning the inaugural ICAA Green Award,” Milner continues. “We were especially impressed by the comprehensiveness of Valle Verde’s Green Initiative, and the involvement of the whole community in these environmental stewardship efforts. Among other things, remodeling existing homes to a higher eco-friendly standard is a more complex undertaking than building new structures that incorporate today’s green-building practices. Valle Verde can serve as both a model and inspiration to others in the active-aging industry that want to improve their environmental commitment.”
As winner of the ICAA Green Award, Valle Verde will receive a crystal award of recognition. In addition, an in-depth profile of the organization and its Green Initiative will appear in ICAA’s flagship publication, the Journal on Active Aging®, in 2011.
Separately, ICAA is naming the winners of the ICAA Innovators Awards for programs and concepts that advance active aging, and the ICAA Innovative Solutions Award (previously the ICAA Equipment Innovator category) for products/solutions that improve older-adult wellness. An announcement with snapshots of the 2010 ICAA Innovators is posted online at www.icaa.cc/awards/pressreleases.htm. Winners of the Innovative Solutions Award will be announced soon.
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About the ICAA Innovators Awards program
Launched in 2003, the ICAA Innovators Awards program honors excellence and creativity in the active-aging industry. By recognizing organizations that have created cutting-edge programs, concepts and products encouraging wellness, ICAA highlights these innovative solutions for industry leaders and governmental organizations to learn from. Award-winners work on inspiring new directions in older-adult wellness. They not only give us a glimpse into the trends shaping the future of older-adult health and wellness, they also give us hope that it is possible to solve the inactivity problem.
About the International Council on Active Aging
The International Council on Active Aging® is the professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry. ICAA supports professionals who develop wellness facilities, programs and services for adults over 50. The association is focused on active aging—an approach to aging that helps older adults live as fully as possible within all dimensions of wellness—and provides its members with education, information, resources and tools. As an active-aging educator and advocate, ICAA has advised numerous organizations and governmental bodies, including the US Administration on Aging, the National Institute on Aging (one of the US National Institutes of Health), the US Department of Health and Human Services, Canada’s Special Senate Committee on Aging, and the British Columbia ministries of Health, and Healthy Living and Sport.
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