Nuts and Bolts of Green House Planning: Part III

“Whatever form they take, there should always be as little distinction as possible between a Green House and the other housing nearby.”
What Are Old People For? How Elders Will Save the World by William H. Thomas, M.D. (page 233)

The Green House vision projected by Dr. Thomas has become a small, growing movement with combined knowledge that benefits aspiring Green House builders like Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community. NCB Capital Impact, a company that supports these building initiatives, is the repository of this increasing knowledge, organizing the information and experiences so newer Green House projects, like that at VMRC, benefit from lessons already learned.

I have visited the site and the trees are already there.

While VMRC has decided to build 10 Green Houses — the number it will take to replace Oak Lea — the community expects to build three houses in phase one. Money needs to be raised, stakeholder education has to continue, and a resident committee of people currently living in other VMRC neighborhoods is organizing to ensure the success of the project. Building these houses requires long-term “buy-in” from many people.

The first part of the project will cost $4.5 million. VMRC retained NCB Capital Impact to help with a feasibility study and pre-development planning and continues to work with the company today. Fundraising is ongoing, now in a silent phase, and if the recession has  hampered things a bit, activity is proceeding enthusiastically, nonetheless.

The plan is to build VMRC Green Houses  in a tree-filled area near other VMRC residences, a high school, residential housing, and the Eastern Mennonite University.

Gardens will surround each house. Eventually the houses will be steps away from a child care center.

And despite the Oak Lea building’s inability to serve as a Green House residential setting for elders, its future uses will support the Green House initiatives at VMRC. Planning is ongoing for a renovated skilled nursing and rehabilitation center with all private rooms, but will with a goal of getting people back into their homes as quickly as possible.

Yet the ultimate gift that Oak Lea may give to Green House residents is high quality intergenerational programming that benefits VMRC, probably the town of Harrisonburg, and  even the nearby Eastern Mennonite University. To ensure this happens VMRC management is working closely with a local child care center with a goal of relocating the young children and their teachers to one floor of the Oak Lea building. So just steps from the new VMRC Green Houses children will be running, playing, and maybe even shouting. What could be better than that?

To learn more please read these posts about Woodland Park Green House Homes, a new community at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community.

9 thoughts on “Nuts and Bolts of Green House Planning: Part III

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