By Erik Fowler
Over the next several months, REALTOR® Magazine’s Styled, Staged & Sold blog and I are excited to be covering green home trends. Check back with us, as this is one in a series of articles to help you make sense of the green landscape as a real estate professional.
Many of you may even consider the new NAR GREEN designation, the only sustainable property designation recognized by the National Association of Realtors®. Topics we will cover over the next few months are:
1) The Big Picture – Defining “Green”
2) Green Homes and Real Estate
3) Who are Green Buyers and Sellers?
4) Listing and Selling Green – Important Issues to Consider
5) Green Certifications - Making Sense of Rating Systems
6) Greening your Real Estate Practice
THE BIG PICTURE
Did you know? According to several studies including the U.S. Department of Energy, homes and buildings account for 40-50 percent of total U.S. energy consumption and at least 20-40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.
In addition, construction of homes and other buildings use more than 30 percent of all raw materials and produce at least 30 percent of waste generation in the U.S. each year. Wow!
Committed followers of green subscribe to sustainable growth principles which reject “false choices” of economic growth versus environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Proponents believe these goals can and should occur simultaneously.
The study and goal of sustainable growth is a topic which I encourage you to research. As it pertains to green homes and development, sustainability focuses on the concept of “smart” growth — growth without compromising the well being of future generations and their ability to satisfy their needs and desire for happiness.
All stakeholders—such as planners, developers, builders and owners—must consider the “triple bottom line” of prosperity (profit), people (community) and their planet (environment). We all share one big home after all—our planet Earth.
More and more people believe that greening our homes, buildings, schools and neighborhoods will have a lasting and positive impact on our environment, our health and our communities.
“Green” means different things to different people, and it’s a good idea to avoid generalizations and stick to specifics, such as noting specific features (substantiated) and third-party green rating systems, especially in the practice of real estate.
“Greenwashing” is the term used to describe erroneous or exaggerated claims about green, such as stating a home is green simply because of one or two green features.
The practice of green, therefore, should examine the entire building lifecycle and its impact – the design, construction, operation/maintenance or removal.
Consider this when you consider green:
- How does the construction or remodel of a home preserve air, water and soil quality?
- How does a home prevent waste of resources and damage to the environment?
- How can a new home development create a harmonious community and healthy lifestyle?
- Finally, and most importantly, how do you and your home currently conserve energy, water and materials?
These ideas will be discussed further as we tackle Green Homes and Real Estate in the next article. I promise less theory and more practice, so stay tuned!
Helpful Web Resources:
- NAR's GREEN designation: www.greenresourcecouncil.org
- U.S. Green Building Council: www.usgbc.org
- Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming (Hawken)
- The Philosophy of Sustainable Design (McLennan)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erik Fowler is a practitioner with Greenwood King Properties in Houston, Texas, with 10 years of residential real estate experience. He is a national member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a board member of the Houston Chapter, an instructor for NAR GREEN, and a certified Eco-Broker.