How to Your Help Clients Breathe Easier Indoors

Eileen Oldroyd
By Eileen Oldroyd

Because we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, the quality of indoor air at home, at school, and at work should be a top priority for all of us.

Recently, the National Association of REALTORS® Center for Real Estate Technology Programs (CRT Labs) asked me to be a beta tester for Rosetta Home, an open-source home automation system. What the heck is that?

To quote CRT Labs, Rosetta Home is “a technology platform to enable real-time and historical analysis of a building’s health.” Still no help? Let’s break it down so us muggles can comprehend: Rosetta Home measures indoor air quality.

Indoor air quality is literally the health of the air inside a home. Healthy air is free of pollutants, dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and mold.

Whether it be at home, at school, or at work, the quality of the indoor air we breathe should be a top priority for all of us and here’s why. It is estimated that most people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air has exponentially more pollutants than outdoor air and causes health issues such as allergies, asthma, auto-immune disorders, and even cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, asthma ranks as one of the most common chronic conditions in children and causes the largest number of sick days in schools. In addition, the number of new cases of asthma has been rising since the early 1980s. And here’s the kicker: studies have shown that the asthma epidemic among both children and adults is directly related to indoor air quality.

Have you ever walked into a building and soon thereafter gotten the sniffles? The reason for your nasal discomfort is probably poor indoor air quality. Or what about when you show a home that has fresh paint and new carpet? Before I became an NAR Green Designee, I enjoyed opening the door of a turnkey home, taking a deep breath, and exclaiming, “I love this smell!”

Well, let me tell you something. That “smell” contains toxic pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde, solvents such as styrene and toluene, and other big words ending in -ene that I cannot spell or pronounce, which is why I was president of the Pep Club in high school rather than of the Science Club.

Which reminds me. Did you know that NAR employs a team of scientists, engineers, and self- proclaimed nerds? Seriously, if you haven’t been to the CRT Labs website (, you are missing an opportunity to learn from and about their cutting-edge research, which is advancing our industry.

Moving along to discuss those nasty VOCs. They are in more than just carpet and paint. They are in fabrics, bug repellents, wood preservatives, cleaning products, aerosol sprays, degreasers, and air fresheners. Wait! What? Air fresheners that make a house smell nice are bad for you? Yup! Kind of ironic.

Cleaning the air inside a home creates a more favorable environment for the health of all who live there or visit. But how does this fact impact you as a real estate professional? And, yes, there is a difference between a real estate agent and a real estate professional. If you are reading this article, you’re the latter.

Consumers are savvier than ever and are looking for more than just a great house that has granite countertops and an entertainer’s backyard and is located in a safe neighborhood that’s close to award-winning schools. They want homes that work for them—smarter homes, healthier homes.

Indoor air quality is important to consumers who are looking for healthy, efficient, and comfortable buildings. You can level up from a real estate professional to a Rockstar REALTOR® by becoming familiar with the concerns and solutions that are associated with good indoor air quality.

Eileen Oldroyd, broker/owner of Oldroyd Realty, is a Director of Orange County REALTORS® and a former chair of Orange County REALTORS® Green Committee. She is a recipient of the coveted EverGreen Award, which is given each year by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Green REsource Council. A member of the NAR Green Advisory Board, she was recently appointed by 2018 NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall to the Association’s Sustainability Advisory Board.

Types of Indoor Air Pollutants

  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Pest contaminants
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Radon

Six Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

  • Check for water leaks and intrusions to prevent mold.
  • Have HVAC systems serviced and pressure tested.
  • Clean or change the filters in HVAC systems, stove hoods, refrigerators, dryer vents, etc.
  • Seal small gaps in attic, walls, and windows.
  • Remove carpets.
  • Use only nontoxic cleaning products.

Three Steps to Becoming a Rockstar REALTOR®

  1. Become educated.
    • Earn the NAR Green Designation.
    • Visit
    • Look for products with the Indoor airPLUS label. (Indoor airPLUS is a voluntary partnership and labeling program that helps new-home builders improve the quality of indoor air by requiring product specifications and construction practices that minimize exposure to airborne pollutants and contaminants.)
    • Learn about indoor air quality monitoring devices.
  2. Assemble your team.
    • Find a qualified mold remediation specialist.
    • Put a home auditor (HERS Raters or BPI Rater) on your speed dial.
  3. Share the love.
    • Explain the health benefits of good indoor air quality and why it is important to homeowners.
    • Direct home buyers and sellers to where they can find more information about indoor air quality.
    • Responsibly recommend expert indoor air quality service providers.