Aging in the New American HomePosted: February 16, 2014
I was initially attracted to taking a look at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) 2014 The New American Home to consider the “latest” in green building materials. The new home takes green building techniques to a new level, meeting “Emerald” status in the National Green Building Standard and “Platinum” status with the US Green Building Council’s LEED program. Certainly, the materials do not disappoint. Most impressive are advances in open-cell spray polyurethane foam insulation systems as made by Bayer MaterialScience LLC. Although these “tighten” the house to make it extremely energy efficient, the newer versions now allow the house to breathe a little more and do not trap as much moisture between the dry wall and insulation. Of equal interest was the roofing foam and coatings also supplied by Bayer. I grew up in the desert at El Paso TX, so interesting to me (from my own life’s experiences) were the qualities of keeping sand and dust, as well as heat, out of the home.
Other “green” features in the 2014 The New American Home were LED lights, tankless water heaters, a 16kw solar photovoltaic panel system, natural gas and electric car charging stations plus a weather-sensitive, moisture-controlled irrigation system.
The perspective in this home, while not so much materials oriented but design perspective is the multi-generational aspects. I was literally fascinated by that aspect within the design and floor planning considerations as explained by Jeffrey Burkus, the architect, with interiors by Marc-Michaels Interior Design Inc (watch the video at “Virtual Tour“). I believe this is an important trend in family style living – a return to the nurturing and care of multi-generational families sharing living space together.
We live on a farm and when my in-laws were in their “dying” years, they lived 5 mins away, our closest neighbors. This allowed them to remain independently in their home but supported by their son and daughter-in-law along with other caregivers and relations. We had our two sons at an advanced age and because I perceive our time together as limited and because I enjoyed so much the 20 years that I had with my in-laws as a regular and present factor in our lives, I have no expectations nor desires for my 2 sons to ever “leave home”. I realize that they may choose otherwise but I see this as a significant shift in human perspectives going into the future.
The 2014 New American Home encompasses this shift rather nicely. Allowing choice in living space and a mix of inhabitants and ages within a single dwelling. A long-view of life together as a family.
While my parents are several states away, I see that same desire in them, to remain in their home and they are making plans and receiving a great deal of assistance in order to continue to do so, as they age and decline naturally as our bodies do. There is a lot of social assistance becoming available because it is definitely less expensive and more natural for people to continue to live the kinds of life they have become accustomed to, whenever that is possible – given medical considerations and local capabilities.
So, the 2014 New American Home in Las Vegas (actually Henderson) NV does not disappoint on many levels – both in the environmentally sensitive material choices or in the forward thinking of the architect and builder. Such considerations are the leading edge of quality of life issues for all of us going into the future, but available to anyone who can afford to design and build a new home today. I realize that many people are struggling financially at this time but let us hope similarly forward thinking people are working on a world where basics of survival in a comfortable sense are available to all of us.
~ Information Resources
“Foam, other plastics featured in ‘The New American Home’ ” by Catherine Kavanaugh posted Feb 11, 2014 in Plastics News – http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20140211/NEWS/140219977/foam-other-plastics-featured-in-the-new-american-home
“NAHB: The 2014 New American Home” – http://www.tnah.com/showpage_details.aspx?showpageID=11138
“NAHB – Aging in Place” – http://www.nahb.org/reference_list.aspx?sectionID=717
“5 Universal Design Needs for Aging in Place” by Michelle Seitzer posted at Reader’s Digest – http://www.rd.com/home/improvement/5-universal-design-needs-for-aging-in-place/#ixzz2tVwBzlXK
Blog author ~ Deborah Hart Yemm is co-founder of
Yemm & Hart, a green materials producer