Grow Old Together

The boomers have arrived, and they know what they want.

The great post–World War II baby boom generation—people born between 1946 and 1964—is now beginning to reach retirement age. And just as their numbers and buying power have shaped everything from pop culture to mass marketing, they are shaping the market for new homes in profound ways.

A new awards program co-sponsored by the NAHB and AARP will recognize builders, remodelers, and developers who are most effectively meeting the needs of this growing market.

A NEW ALLIANCE The Livable Communities Awards program was announced during February's International Builders' Show in Orlando, Fla. It will recognize creative and unique home and community projects that improve the daily comfort, ease, and safety of their residents. The program will also highlight the critical elements needed for a livable community.

This is the first time that the NAHB has joined in a project with AARP, which represents 38 million people aged 50 and over, and we are very pleased to be cooperating with them on such an important initiative. This awards program will recognize homes and communities that are thoughtfully designed and carefully executed to accommodate various needs and priorities.

The AARP & NAHB Livable Communities Awards will be presented annually to three professional groups—builders, remodelers, and developers—for projects that incorporate such aspects as:

  • Design elements that accommodate the needs of all residents with all levels of physical ability from children to grandparents;
  • Easy access to community services and features such as retail, restaurants, medical care, social and cultural activities, as well as viable transportation options;
  • Improved energy efficiency and enhanced site design;
  • Better communication with key stakeholders. The awards are not limited to homes and communities designed for the 55-plus market. Any design that effectively incorporates aging-in-place and universal design features is a potential winner.

    THE CONTENDERSThe NAHB and AARP are looking for applicants that reflect the full diversity of the home building industry. Categories include: builders (single-family or multifamily), with separate winners chosen for units of 2,500 square feet or less and units of more than 2,500 square feet; remodelers, with winners chosen for projects up to $25,000 and for projects costing more than $25,000; and developers, with winners chosen for development projects up to 250 units and for developments of more than 250 units. Projects must have been completed and opened or been eligible for occupancy between Jan. 1, 2005 and June 1, 2007.

    A panel of expert judges appointed by the NAHB and AARP will review the applications and select the finalists. Judging criteria vary from category to category, but elements that will be rated include universal design features, ease of maintenance and energy efficiency, and stakeholder involvement. Other judging criteria include exterior design, landscaping/site design, and incorporation of livable community design features. Winners also will be reviewed to determine that they are good corporate citizens and in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels.

    Applications for the first Livable Communities Awards are due June 1, 2007, and I urge members to enter this important new awards program. Not only will it provide recognition for builders, remodelers, and developers who do an exemplary job, but it will also provide great examples for people in our industry to emulate.

    Winners will be announced in a gala event in December in Washington and will be featured in AARP The Magazine, the largest circulation magazine in America. Winners will also be recognized at the 2008 International Builders' Show. For more information, contact Blake Smith at, or go to