A NAHB Gold home for people from the golden era.
By Scott McCourtney
Photography by Paul Berg & Nikki Block
“We are proud of creating an environmentally-friendly community where Oak Hill seniors can enjoy happy and healthy lifestyles today while preserving resources for tomorrow. As an added bonus, our green and energy-efficient practices result in cost savings we pass on to residents,” said Marty Jablonski, Principal of owner/developer, Round Lake Beach, L.P. The development team included Gleason Architects P.C., Skender Construction, and Watermark Engineering Resources LTD.
The 72,954 square foot Oak Hill is located in Round Lake Beach, Illinois, and offers 47 studios and 47 one-bedroom apartments. The community is operated by Pathway Senior Living, LLC.
Oak Hill is the first and only assisted living green building to undergo the full rating system and receive approval from the American National Standards Institute. The ICC 700 NGBS defines green buildings for singlefamily homes, low, mid and high-rise multifamily buildings, residential remodeling projects and site development projects while still allowing for the flexibility required for regionally-appropriate best green practices. “Oak Hill’s commitment to being compliant with green building standards from the design and construction phases through operation, sets an excellent example to the senior living industry of how to plan for future generations while addressing energy and environmental concerns today,” said Art Wehnert, NAHB Green Verifier, who consulted with Oak Hill on the green building process from the beginning of the NAHB Gold certification.
The building team for Oak Hill took certain steps for the Gold certification. Efficient heating and cooling of the building along with advanced insulation techniques minimize heating and cooling loss throughout the facility. This not only created an energy-efficient system, but provided residents and staff members with a comfortable environment for year-round Illinois weather conditions.
The use of low VOC adhesives, sealants and paints, along with nonformaldehyde- processed insulation reduced the amount of toxins in the air to help those with lung disease and asthma to breathe easier. Energy Star rated appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, lights and ceiling fans were installed. There were also water-conserving plumbing fixtures installed to help preserve water resources and keep costs down.
“Oak Hill was designed to exceed the 2029 energy sufficient codes. We had to seal all the joints between all the walls, floors and ceilings. The plumbing fixtures are water conserving. We used energy-star lighting fixtures in all residential units along with high-grade commercial fixtures for the commercial areas,” stated Thad Gleason, AIA, President of Gleason Architects P.C.
Oak Hill was built as part of the state’s mandate to identify community-integrated living alternatives to nursing homes for people who qualify for independent living. As part of an initiative to encourage the development of supportive-living resources, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) allocated federal tax credits to Round Lake Beach, L.P., to finance housing for seniors with limited incomes. Oak Hill qualifies as an independent-living community, because residents have individual leases, controlled access to their apartments, and the freedom to choose how to spend their days.
“Oak Hill is definitely the type of qualified community-based alternative the state needs to offer seniors 65 and better to rebalance the long-term-care system. Qualified seniors currently in nursing homes can now opt to live in a more community-based setting and still have support services. For Illinois and the federal government, it means significant savings in Medicaid funding,” stated Dan Burke, Illinois’ Statewide Housing Coordinator for Long Term Care Reform. The state’s goal is to transition 1,100 people in Cook County out of nursing homes by June of 2015.
In the Round Lake Beach area, there were no other supportive senior living facilities before Oak Hill. If a person moves in, then runs out of money and savings, under the Supportive Living Facilities License, Medicaid takes over. It is a great option for someone in need, and if anyone runs out of money or lives beyond their life expectancy, the license will allow the state or federal government to pick up the tab through Medicaid.
“All the effort and detail that went into the project site was a challenge in itself, because the building sat on top of a hill with wetlands that had a road winding around it.
We created a pond with a fountain that shoots up water 20 feet and that catches the eye upon the first glance of Oak Hill. This site and finished project show a lot of class,” said Gleason.
West of the pond is a natural prairie wetland, so they surrounded it with a 675-foot walking path. In 2012, Illinois initiated a free “Walk Across Illinois” program to encourage citizens to walk the 167 miles across the state, from the Mississippi River in Rock Island to the Lake Michigan shoreline in Chicago (www. WalkAcrossIllinois.org).
The team figured that if an Oak Hill resident walks around the path 2.5 times and walks the 720 feet to and from the path every day for one year, he or she will have walked the equivalent of the width of the state. “Several of our Oak Hill seniors have already enrolled in this program,” explained Jablonski.
Oak Hill has call systems in every room for daily needs and emergencies. The facility provides three meals a day, support services as needed, as well as activities and outings to other areas or destinations. A financial safety net is available to those who qualify. Amenities include a billiard room, dining and community rooms, beauty salon, library, and a 1930’s art deco movie theater with red cushioned seats, popcorn and twinkling stars in the ceiling. The overall goal for Oak Hill was to provide a more comfortable, healthier living experience for its residents who are senior citizens as well as a positive environment for future generations.
Scott McCourtney is an assistant editor for 50+ Builder. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org