East Ridge at Cutler Bay, a life plan community, has a special mission in finding sustainable solutions to minimize the community’s footprint on the environment.
Earth Day on April 22 is a perfect time to bring awareness of these efforts – shared by residents and the management and operations team of the nearly 55-year-old community.
Located on 76 acres, East Ridge began adopting new recycling practices in 2010 starting with single stream recycling. Since then, the program has been expanded to include continued emphasize on education and recycling in all departments.
“The benefits affect residents and employees. We are providing healthier facilities, increasing worker productivity, improving morale and reduction of sick days. These efforts are bringing residents and staff together,” said Ken Gould, director of operations. “It takes everyone believing that living green is vital to our future. For example, resident committees evaluate and make viable suggestions. We want to create the healthiest possible atmosphere for residents and employees without harming the environment. ”
Various recycling programs include glass, paper, plastic, aluminum, cardboard, batteries, fluorescents, and cell phones.
In addition, there is a concerted effort to reduce the use of paper. The community has adopted innovations including using electronic files and e-mail to paperless operations. Hard plastic water bottles are provided to staff to discourage the use of Styrofoam.
Energy conservation is practiced as well, from shutting off lights in unused common areas and unoccupied offices to purchasing Energy Star appliances and CFL light bulbs.
The Environmental Services department also practices Green Cleaning Policies which includes purchasing green seal and environmental preferred cleaning products to selecting vendors that are environmentally cautious and support the sustainable initiatives.
Living at East Ridge offers the advantage of weekly housekeeping and yearly deep cleaning so residents are assured that the Green Cleaning program is carried out.
Recycling has also been embraced through a community’s on-site, volunteer-managed thrift store. This is a wonderful outlet to sell unwanted furniture and miscellaneous household items and the thrift store is open to general public every Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
A significant achievement for the community was receiving the prestigious LEED Platinum certification for the environmentally-designed Three Palms Health Center. Offering assisted living, skilled nursing and memory support, the heath center’s green building strategies included ease of access by pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicle transportation; erosion control protection during and after development; high-efficiency water system; energy and atmospheric elements guaranteeing fresh air flow; low-emitting material usage and an in-place recycling and waste management plan.
“What we are accomplishing at East Ridge can show other communities it can be done,” Gould added. “It takes a commitment to embrace the change.”