Going Green at Any Age—Purchase of ZENN Electric Car Reflects Progressive Vibe at Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community

Based on their commitment to independence, dignity, and quality of life, resident advisors give the green light to zero-emissions acquisition.

With the blessing of their community’s transportation committee, headed by a retired electrical engineer from the Westinghouse nuclear division, executives with Sherwood Oaks, a retirement community in Cranberry Township, today announced the strategic addition of a ZENN electric car to the campus motor pool.

Hinting at both the due diligence of the resident committee he chairs as well as a lifetime of attention to detail, 91-year-old Melvin “Jud” Judkis, an 11-year resident of Sherwood Oaks, reels off the compelling stats that helped drive executives’ decision to go green.

“The fuel economy was listed as 245 miles per equivalent gallon of gasoline,” he says. “The cost of operating the car on electricity would be about 3.4 kilowatt-hours to drive 25 miles. That turns out to be about 40 cents, based upon the price of electricity.”

According to Sherwood Oaks president and CEO Mark D. Bondi, those facts made sense in terms of both bottom-line savings and in the way the purchase reflects the unique collaborative dynamic between Sherwood Oaks administrators and its clients who live there.

“We have a bunch of residents who are very bright,” says Mr. Bondi. “They’re retired engineers, retired educators, business owners. These are people who have planned very carefully all their lives. The residents really have a voice in what happens here, and they’re a resource for us.”

Manufactured by the ZENN Motor Company (www.zenncars.com), the new car will be used at Sherwood Oaks as an on-campus-only vehicle to supplement an already busy fleet of gas-powered cars and buses used by residents for transportation both on and off campus, to the airport, to doctor visits, and for shopping excursions.

According to Ralph Edgar, director of security and transportation for Sherwood Oaks, the four-passenger ZENN car is ideal for daily use around the community’s 84-acre campus. It has a top speed of 25 mph; it can be recharged overnight via a standard household electrical outlet; and it has a range of up to 30 miles on a single charge.

“We had a demo car for the last three weeks,” he says, “so we’re used to having it in service every day. We looked at some other products, along the lines of golf carts, but this is like a regular car. It’s enclosed; it will protect you from the weather. It’s a nice addition to our fleet.”

In addition to the ZENN car purchase, Mr. Bondi says other eco- and budget-friendly initiatives at Sherwood Oaks include recent construction of a “green” rooftop on the community’s healthcare center as well as energy-efficient design elements included in new apartments under construction, all of which reflects relevant input from some of the more than 50 activity/advisory committees that comprise the Sherwood Oaks Residents Association (SORA).

“Sherwood Oaks is a resident-founded community, and the relationship between residents and staff is extremely cooperative,” says Mr. Bondi. “I think the better communities try to stay close to their customers, like any business should.”

The resident chair of SORA’s transportation committee agrees.

“We try to be progressive in the things that we do, and we like to think that we are having a say in how this place is run,” says Mr. Judkis.