Mather Lifeways has won a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council for its new retirement community completed earlier this year in Evanston.

It’s said to be the only continuing care retirement community in the nation to have achieved the gold rating.

The internationally-recognized, voluntary Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system provides building owners and operators with third-party verification to identify and implement measurable green building design, operations, and maintenance solutions.

“Sustainability was among our many goals for The Mather,” said Mary Leary, President and CEO, Mather LifeWays. “Achieving a LEED Gold rating means we’ve accomplished that and more.”

LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs and increase asset value; reduce waste sent to landfills; conserve energy and water, be healthier and safer for occupants; reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and possibly qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives.

At 204,000 square feet, The Mather is the largest newly constructed building in Evanston to achieve LEED Gold recognition.

“Mather LifeWays has always been a tremendous asset to our community, a pioneer in aging well,” said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl.  “Now they are a pioneer in helping Evanston to reduce our carbon footprint by building a LEED certified Gold building that also helps protect the environment.”

The Mather achieved LEED points across a variety of categories to earn enough points for Gold status. The categories included Sustainable Site; Water Efficiency; Energy & Atmosphere; Materials & Resources; Indoor Environmental Quality; and Innovation & Design Process.

Some of the site-specific LEED elements in The Mather’s design include using native and adaptive landscaping to reduce irrigation needs, utilizing rain water for irrigation, reflective roofing materials and a green roof with indigenous species of plants help reduce urban heat island effect, using low-flow fixtures to reduce potable water consumption, using energy efficient lighting and properly disposing of all old fixtures, and self-powered exercise equipment to reduce electrical consumption in the 10,000 square foot fitness room and Cotton Spa. Also critical was the use of low amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOC) for adhesives, sealants, painting, and coatings.

More than 20percent of the building materials were supplied by local and regional vendors, thus reducing energy used for transportation, and more than 84 percent of building materials from the construction site were recycled. The Mather also utilizes eco-friendly chemicals through approved vendors for use in building services, housekeeping, and culinary services.

Top: The exterior of the new Mather building at the southeast corner of Hinman Avenue and Davis Street on the night of its grand opening celebration in February this year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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