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Senior Living Community Offers Spirituality And Sustainability

Enso Village Aerial Rendering

Enso Village, A New Senior Living Community In California’s Wine Country, Puts Focus On Spirituality And Sustainability.

It’s hard to think of anything more Californian than a Zen-inspired senior living community in the heart of wine country that is being financed by a green bond devoted to sustainability. That’s what you’ll find in the Sonoma County town of Healdsburg, where plans are underway to build Enso Village, a not-for-profit “life plan community” for adults 60 and over with a focus on mindful aging, environmental stewardship, and healthy life choices.

The 275-unit. not-for-profit community is co-sponsored by the San Francisco Zen Center and The Kendal Corporation, a leading nonprofit provider of senior living programs, services, and communities. The Zen Center and Kendal have worked together to ensure that Enso Village is a sustainable community.

They took a big step in that direction in May, when Enso Village became the first senior living startup to get green bond financing approval for the construction of the new community. Green bonds, also known as climate bonds, are used to finance environmentally friendly projects around the world, from renewable energy and clean water to green technology. The Enso Village Green Bonds aims to raise $308 million to cover development costs like design, marketing, land acquisition, and construction.

“When we envisioned Enso Village, we consciously made decisions with an awareness of how our actions impact the earth,” Susan O’Connell, Spiritual Director for Enso Village, said on a community blog. “The approval of the Green Bonds recognizes our commitment to that goal in a very tangible way and aligns with our pledge to environmental stewardship and the merging of vision and clear, measurable outcomes.”

Developers of Enso Village intend to use green building materials for both exterior and interior portions of the community and divert 65 percent of all construction waste from landfills. These initiatives won’t end once the community is built, however. Residents will use its food waste for composting on Enso Village’s urban farm, and select drought-tolerant native plants to minimize water consumption.

The community will also have a solar array that is expected to produce enough solar energy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 9,000 kilograms, which should help Enso exceed the LEED energy baseline by 24 percent in greenhouse gas reductions. In addition, the community will be outfitted with energy-efficient kitchen appliances, heating and cooling systems, and lighting systems.

Enso Village should be completed in 2023. It will include 221 independent living residences, 30 assisted living apartments, and 24 memory care accommodations located on 16 acres. Of the 221 independent apartments, 20 are low-income rental apartments for retired Buddhist teachers, and 10 are moderate-income apartments. Amenities include a full-service restaurant, a bistro with a vegetarian menu inspired by the San Francisco Zen Center’s Greens Restaurant, an indoor pool with a sundeck, and a Zendo for meditation and gathering.

Independent living common areas will include a central lobby, multi-purpose space, wellness center, library, TV/media room, art and activity spaces, and two distinct dining venues with outdoor spaces. Surface and covered parking will be available for residents and visitors. The assisted living apartments and memory support apartments will be located in the lower two floors of the northwest portion of the main building, connected to the independent living areas.

It didn’t take long for residents to sign up. Enso Village achieved 94 percent reservations within a few months of being offered.  

“Sometimes an idea finds its right time and place,” said Susan O’Connell, Spiritual Director of Zen-Inspired Senior Living, an Enso Village sponsor. “The vision for Zen Inspired Senior Living — which means turning toward and consciously celebrating the experiences of seniors as we age — has met the socially responsible, deeply curious, and pioneering nature of the Baby Boomer generation. We expect that this way of aging, given how mindfulness is now a part of American Corporate culture, will also spark the enthusiasm of generations to come.”

The Green Bond designation is typically applied to projects developed for environmental purposes only, such as large municipal solar projects or water conservation projects. To get issued the bonds, Enso Village had to be approved through an independent third-party review that could validate the community’s commitment to long-term sustainability and environmental stewardship.

“This represents not only a major milestone in the development of Enso Village but also our very real commitment to the environment during our construction phase as well as for the future of the community,” said Stephen Bailey, Senior Vice President of New Business & Development for Kendal Corporation. “We hope that this will be the first of many new communities to achieve this designation.”

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