Ecofriendly Real Estate Practices Minus The Greenwash

Posted by: Marie Scheuring on October 7th, 2009

green-ecofriendlyPart of being “green” means making some thoughtful decisions.  As an EcoBroker, I find that clients often say they want to be green because they have a romanticized view of what this entails, aptly named greenwashing.

The reality is that they are usually not sure what it really means.  In many cases, they find that going GREEN can mean giving up some of their high style options.  As their Realtor, my job is to help them find the satisfaction in choosing the long term benefits of going GREEN.

My basic rules of ecofriendly real estate include:

  • Renovating an existing property is always greener than new construction (even if it is in a green community with an energy star rating).  Anytime new land is cleared, the environment and all the flora and fauna are decimated.
  • Local materials should be selected whenever possible.  Transporting building materials can add up to a huge carbon footprint.
  • Energy saving features should take priority in the budget.  Investing in a long term benefit of reduced energy consumption is good for the buyer and the planet.
  • Water conservation should be part of the landscaping plan.  Drought tolerant lawns and plant materials are also easier to care for.  Native plants are always a good option.  Placing plants in the optimal conditions will also reduce the need for watering.
  • Explore all tax credits, state and federal, to know the bottom line.  The Obama administration has implemented serious incentives for upgrading hvac, windows, and insulation and other energy saving products.
  • Find a lender who can provide a “green” mortgage product.  Many of these loans will permit a higher amount to be borrowed provided it will go toward energy saving improvements.
  • Hire an energy rater to get a list of the most economical ways to invest for “green benefits”.  An energy audit costs under $500 for most homes.
  • Find out if the home has good indoor air quality.  Part of being green is being healthy.  I recommend everyone know their radon number.  Depending on the age of the home, testing for the presence of lead paint, asbestos and mold may also be indicated.

There seems to be two kinds of clients who want ecofriendly homes.  The first is highly educated about it and they will likely know more than you.  It is a religion for them. Their home will be modest in style, probably have a lot of the original features, cabinets, laminate counters, and solar panels on the roof.

The other is much more common.  They have the best of intentions but they need direction.  You will spend more time with them doing the hand holding; helping them with resources and information.  In the end, many of them will not make the tough choices.  They will say, I have to have the granite counters and the Brazilian Cherry floors.

I don’t recommend every Realtor run out and get a green designation.  Being an EcoBroker will not be popular with every buyer or seller.  There is a big portion of the public who will see you as a tree hugger with radical views.

The only reason to get a green designation is because you believe that saving the planet means making tough choices and you are willing to be a catalyst for change.



2 Comments on “Ecofriendly Real Estate Practices Minus The Greenwash”

Portland Real Estate

Great notes, there is a lot of greenwashing out there. Being a little greener can start with small steps like having a laptop to pull up listings on for your clients, rather than printing tons and tons of pages that are going to get tossed less than a day after being printed. -Tyler

Green Real Estate News

While getting started in green building can be intimidating at first, familiarity with standards and talking to experts in the field can make the process a lot easier. Energy and water conservation are two of the biggest concerns, with use of recycled or recyclable, non-toxic materials, and reduction of landfill use following. With a sound plan and the correct priorities, making your development a green one doesn’t have to be hard. Green developments are turning up everywhere, from water-saving condominiums built of recyclable materials where decaying industrial buildings used to sit, to schools and businesses designed to make the best use of energy while providing good air quality. Slowly, green building is becoming mainstream, so now’s a great time to get started.

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