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Sustainability is an evolving topic in our culture and in many industries, and real estate is no exception. In this episode, expert Melisa Camp joins Monica to discuss sustainability inside our homes, as well as in the construction of new homes. They talk about new ways to take care of the resources we have, the opportunities in the industry, and how to tend to our health and finances on this journey.

Sustainable products are much more accessible and affordable than they have been previously. As we've all spent so much time in our houses during this pandemic, Melisa and her family have looked into ways to make a healthier home. Air quality can be improved by natural ventilation, air filters (MERV 14 or higher or a HEPA filter), and air cleaning (usually a portable device). Many utility companies offer an energy audit, which is a great place to start. Some other easy fixes anyone can do are weather stripping, sealing your ductwork, and foam air sealing. A tankless water heater is another good option to conserve water and energy if that's something you're looking to replace. Plants are another great way to improve your air quality!

For listeners with families, there are several ways you can get your children and your family involved in making more sustainable choices. Melisa shares some things that she has done including different school initiatives, contests, and recycling crayons and sneakers. Finding ways to involve the children is a great way to make sustainability part of their lifestyle. Melisa talks about "upcycling" and some of the things she has done recently to minimize waste in her house. In addition to environmental waste, there is also digital waste. Our digital activities take energy and resources, and it's not something we tend to think about on a day-to-day basis.

There is a lot happening in the solar industry right now. Solar power is a renewable, clean source of energy. Melisa shares her experience with solar power on a house she built last year; because the tenant doesn't use that much energy, it's actually a net-positive home. If you use solar power that's connected to the grid, your community benefits from any energy you don't use. If you're off-grid, your extra energy goes into a battery to be used at a later time. If you have the capital, Melisa suggests purchasing or financing solar panels, rather than leasing them.

One thing to note as an agent when it comes time for the appraisal — make sure you use the green and energy-efficient addendum. The appraisal process is extremely important in getting a good value. As the REALTOR®, you need to be a good communicator, and that starts with contacting the lender so you can get a competent solar appraiser. Whether you're a listing agent or a buyer's agent, take the lockbox off the house so the appraiser has to call you before going out, and you can vet their experience. For listing agents, collect any information about modifications or efficiencies early and often so you can have a more successful transaction for your client.

Green housing differs from region to region. For agents in different areas, you should look into what incentives might be available in your market, as well as what energy options are most efficient in your area. Some places are better for solar power, and other places may be better for wind power.

The construction industry is helping to eliminate waste and inefficiency. They continue to get more efficient as they are learning, and building codes continue to raise the bar. Melisa talks about what some custom builders do with their waste by donating what they can from old properties, as well as including healthy features, like the sound in a space and natural lighting. It takes building to the next level with a focus on health.

Sustainability and climate restoration are what Melisa has devoted her life's work to. All REALTORS® should take NAR's GREEN Designation coursework — it will change the way you do business with your clients. Our future is up to us taking action today, and it starts with small changes and educating ourselves.


"That's the biggest advice I would give to anybody, is just start. You don't have to do it all right now, just find some low-hanging fruit." — Melisa Camp

"The kids are my why — why do I care about all of this? Because I care about leaving the place better than I found it for the future generations." — Melisa Camp

"You have to balance what you need, what you can afford, what's available, and what's your lifestyle." — Monica

About Melisa Camp

Melisa Camp has been a REALTOR® for 13 years. Melisa lives in Arizona and has been teaching on green-related topics for 10 years in her company, Elite Education. She is the president of a non-profit she started in 2016, called Sustainable Real Estate Education.

Camp has served with NAR in many ways — on the NAR GREEN Resource Council she was awarded the EverGreen Award in 2011, on NAR's Sustainability Advisory Group, and she has presented at NAR Annual for six years.

The Center for REALTOR® Development has some new online education coming up soon that Melisa has been a part of — more to follow on that soon!

Melisa's other interests — motherhood, of course, and foremost — are working with the USGBC and helping with the Green Team at her children's school. Melisa has served on the board of directors for the Arizona Association of REALTORS®.