Sunrise of Newton is a senior living community in Newton Corner that opened in 2021. Owned by Sunrise Senior Living, which operates approximately 280 such properties in the U.S. and Canada, the design for Sunrise of Newton took into consideration its impact on the environment as constructed, and with a long-range commitment to energy efficiency as it operates. It exemplifies many of the sustainability features in modern construction:

Exterior Envelope

Sunrise of Newton has a robust, continuous thermal envelope with a continuous air infiltration barrier, continuous exterior insulation with a high R-value. The minimal heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer reduces the need for heating and cooling.

The windows are double-pane and argon gas-filled, which helps prevent heat/cold loss and reduces the energy needed to heat and cool the building. They are also carefully detailed and constructed to prevent thermal bridging and avoid air infiltration.

The flat roof portions of the building are covered in white, light reflecting TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin), which reduces heat gain. Exterior lighting is on automatic controls to conserve energy.

Energy Recovery Units were provided as part of the mechanical system to provide fresh air without heat loss. They utilize the temperature of exhausting air to temper the incoming ventilation air, thus reducing the energy required to either heat or cool incoming air to the desired temperature.

The building was computer modeled to show compliance with the new Massachusetts energy and stretch code requirements. After construction, the mechanical systems were commissioned to ensure that installation was carried out to plan and specifications and that they were operating correctly to reach maximum efficiency.

Interior of Building

LED lighting is utilized throughout the building and includes occupancy sensors and lighting controls.

The interior environment was planned and designed to enhance residents’ and employees’ well- being. Fresh ventilation is provided to each room. Low VOC paints and low emitting materials were utilized.

Sunrise Senior Living has committed to pursue the WELL Health-Safety Rating (WELL HSR) for their entire portfolio of buildings including Sunrise of Newton. The WELL HSR is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating for all new and existing building and facility types which focuses on operational policies, maintenance protocols, stakeholder engagement and emergency plans.

Site Design

The site design specifies plants that are drought tolerant and indigenous to the area. Irrigation is provided with a “smart” system which gathers local weather data and regulates the amount of water used for irrigation. This reduces water use and prevents over-watering and potential damage to the hardscape.

The building is located at a public bus stop, and employees are encouraged to carpool and use public transit.


Since the EPA created “Senior Housing” as a building type for the Energy Star Program, Sunrise Senior Living has been committed to the program, and each Sunrise community is enrolled in the program and entered into Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM). Sunrise of Newton is in ESPM. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star Program is a voluntary energy efficiency program promoting products and practices that help protect the environment as well as conserving energy. The water, gas and electric bills for Sunrise of Newton and all other communities are regularly entered into ESPM.

Sunrise of Newton has a comprehensive Facilities Management program in place to maintain equipment and conserve energy costs, focusing on best practices for efficiency in the areas of kitchen and laundry operations, lighting and HVAC&R (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning and Refrigeration).

Katy Sheesley, LEED® AP BD+C, WELL AP™, is Vice President and Director of Construction Services at GHP Architecture Environmental Construction Services.