Culture of Sustainability, Part 1

Part 1: The “Gold Standard”: What it means to be a WELL-certified Senior Living Community

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Sustainability and being eco-friendly is a large part of Frasier’s culture. Whether it is for large-scale multimillion-dollar projects or encouraging residents and staff to recycle, they are committed to improving their footprint on the environment. In this four-part series, read how this senior living community is dedicated and engaged in accomplishing that.

When Frasier began a $100+ million campus expansion plan in 2015, they became the first senior living community in the United States to aspire to build to the standards for  WELL Building Standard™ Certification.  With a goal to build the best possible space to nurture the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the residents, Frasier is now leading by example influencing the development of standards for future continuing care communities nationwide.

“We set out to be the first retirement community in the country to achieve this certification. While there are others who have also built to these standards, Frasier was proud to be an innovator in this space, “says the President and CEO, Tim Johnson.

Gold level WELL certification means Frasier has met the criteria of  WELL Building Standard® which is a performance-based system that monitors the impact of the environment on human health and wellbeing. The focus is on seven key areas in design and construction:

  • Air – using materials that give off minimal volatile organic compounds
  • Light – adequate illumination, especially for natural light
  • Water – non-toxic plumbing materials and filtration
  • Fitness – space that encourages physical activity
  • Nourishment – encourages healthy eating habits
  • Comfort – noise and temperature control
  • Mind – spaces for relaxation and use of technology

An example of how Frasier met these standards was to install new, wall-to-wall, high-efficiency windows in every apartment to allow for plentiful natural light that mimics our natural circadian rhythms. The windows are easy to open and close while helping to maintain an even temperature throughout the living space.

To ensure the cleanest indoor air quality possible, all building materials such as paint, adhesives, carpeting, etc., meet WELL standards by minimizing the amount of volatile organic compounds released into the atmosphere. New fire safety equipment was installed that utilizes modern technology for the residents’ and their families’ peace of mind.

While not part of the certification process, the design and construction of The Canyon Center  – a multi-use arts and education venue – adhered to WELL standards and any renovations to existing buildings going forward will, as well.

It was no small undertaking to achieve gold-level WELL certification and numerous challenges had to be overcome. The architectural firm tasked with designing the new Prairies apartment building was unfamiliar with WELL building standards and outside consultants were engaged to help plan and move the project forward. The cost of building to WELL standards is substantial but saving money in the short term was not the goal.

The pandemic brought its own set of challenges. The Prairies was completed in December 2019, and residents began to move-in in early 2020, but the WELL certification inspection was delayed for several months.  It took nearly a year after opening the building to get it inspected and be awarded a gold certification.

With deep ties to the Boulder community, known for its efforts to preserve and protect the environment, Frasier has always sought to make the city better and continues to seek ways to positively influence the lives of everyone who lives here.

“This achievement makes a statement to residents, staff, and the Boulder community at large that we truly care about the environment in which they live and work and are doing our part to make a difference,” Johnson stated.