Why Go Green

Tammy Newland-Shishido
By Tammy Newland-Shishido

Green building is more than a trend. It is the direct result of prioritizing human health and taking responsibility for the environment.

Are you prepared to help clients buy or sell a green home? Did you know that nearly 40 percent of home buyers consider energy-efficient features to be “very important”? Green-certified homes—with labels such as Energy Star or Green Point Rated—sell for 9 percent more than homes without these labels. For these reasons, many agents view earning the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Green Designation as one way to gain a competitive edge in this market.

The benefits of earning the Green Designation are that you increase your value as a trusted advisor to your clients by learning how to

  • help buyers find a fixer-upper and transform it into a more comfortable home with lower utility and maintenance costs;
  • explain to sellers which green upgrades made before a sale can boost a home’s value;
  • help both buyers and sellers navigate the landscape of cash rebates, incentives, green certifications, and financing necessary to achieve their goals;

and you become better able to market green and to grow your business by attracting new customers.

My friend and Orange County REALTORS® Director Eileen Oldroyd is known as “Green Eileen.” She sat on the 2017 NAR Green Advisory Board and was recently appointed by 2018 NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall to the new Sustainability Advisory Group. Long a believer in going green, Eileen drove clients around for nine years in her “veggie mobile,” a car in which she and her husband had installed a secondary fuel tank in the trunk so that the vehicle could be powered in part by waste vegetable oil.

Health is our biggest concern. Without good health, we aren’t much good to our families, our associates, or our communities. We know that diet, exercise, and social activities can help to ensure good health, but what about the things we don’t always think about? The less obvious areas of impact on our health include our homes, our offices, and the environment around us.

Green building is much more than a trend. It is the direct result of prioritizing human health and taking responsibility for the environment. When you work with buyers, encourage them to consider a home’s air, water, light, and energy. Looking at the total picture may prevent them from purchasing a home that exhibits traits of sick building syndrome. Healthy homes enhance the well-being of their occupants.

Those who remodel business and office buildings are making the environmental responsibility shift more quickly than are their residential counterparts. The assumption seems to be that smaller projects have less room to justify the upfront costs. In these instances, calculating the return on investment (ROI) and communicating the benefits of adding green features is essential.

Going green can seem overwhelming at first, but small steps make a difference. I have seen people become more energy efficient by composting, installing solar panels, upgrading their homes to lower the energy costs, and reducing the amount of routine printing they do. But you do need to be careful about the financing options you choose because some come with undesirable consequences. Nonetheless, energy efficiency is important. I have started by not printing so many documents and by adding egg shells to my garden and plants. If each one of us comes up with one goal, together, we can change—and improve—our environment.

NAR has developed an entire green wall with live plants from floor to ceiling. Looking at this wall makes you feel as if you are outside. Employees in the cubicles near the wall say that they “feel better and are more cheerful” at work. Maybe a green wall is a small project for your home, your office, or our Association.