Blog : Green Story: RiverWoods Retirement Community, A Sustainable Cut Above the Rest

By Sam Lane | Jun 3, 2015 | in

Every Green Alliance business undergoes a Sustainability Certification. This certification serves to show everyone what each business has accomplished and what they are still working to accomplish when it comes to green business practices. Your can read RiverWoods Retirement Community’s full certification documents here. Below is part 3 of the Green Alliance Sustainability Certification, otherwise known as the Green Story.

One of the Green Alliance’s newest members is probably one of the least understood within the Seacoast. If you think you know RiverWoods, think again. It is the product of a group of Seacoast-area residents, who were not happy with the options available to them when they retired – so they built their own!

More than 20 years ago, RiverWoods was founded as a Continuing Care Retirement Community by people who wanted to create an active community of adults who cared about each other and the world around them. Today, RiverWoods is nationally accredited, and has three campuses on 200 wooded acres in Exeter.

The beauty of the community is that people enter when they are 62 or older, and live active, independent lives. If at any time their health changes, they need assisted living or skilled nursing, it is available, for no increase in fee, right within their campus.

With 65 free fitness classes offered weekly, more than 50 committees on topics as wide-ranging as Political Action to DuplicateBridge, and miles of wooded trails, the three RiverWoods campuses teem with energy and opportunity to get involved. Regular group outings for golf, skiing, tennis, birding, and kayaking take advantage of all of the natural beauty the Seacoast has to offer. Many more residents volunteer at over 150 local organizations


The energy level came through at our first meeting. The RiverWoods Environmental Sustainability Committee (ESC), is a group of people who want to make a difference. Not only within the confines of RiverWoods, but throughout the greater Seacoast community. The ESC is made up of RiverWoods residents and staff. Their monthly meetings are extremely structured, focusing on specific topics they deem important (such as food sources for their local cafeteria or decreasing storm runoff). Ideas flow, and there’s a lot to address in the short, two-hour meetings, but they are focused on making tangible changes.

Tim Bishop, a Facilities Director at RiverWoods, is one of the staff members on the ESC. He recognizes the unique culture that RiverWoods has, one in which its residents have a strong voice in how the community makes decisions – and green issues are very important. The organization has made big strides in this area: implementing green options into all new construction projects, and replacing windows, appliances, carpets, and paint with the most eco-friendly options available.

Currently, solar panels are in place at one of the three campuses. The panels help heat the pool (which is free of harsh chemicals), and offset a portion of the domestic hot water heating for that building. But RiverWoods would like to go further. Bishop explains that as their current energy contract moves towards expiration, the retirement community is considering plans to put in place renewable sources throughout all campuses; the ultimate goal to offset a majority of the community’s fossil fuel use.

Green efforts throughout the campuses are extensive. From farm-to-table food sources, to composting in commercial kitchens, to reminders in every room to shut off lights, to making recycling as easy as possible for residents, RiverWoods stands miles ahead in its industry. But what really sets RiverWoods apart are the education efforts to inform the campus and local community about environmental issues. Guest speakers, informative movies, constant reminders throughout the building to conserve energy and recycle – all organized by committees of residents – shed light on how even small changes can have a big impact on the environment.

Green Dreams: The RiverWoods community has their sights set on implementing more renewable energy sources. With ongoing research, they want to continue to adopt the best practices in order to provide residents with a safe, comfortable and healthy living environment.

Find out more about RiverWoods Retirement Community on their Business Partner page.