Friday, August 29, 2008

Go Green Team! Part 1

Green has become one of the new buzzwords, but what does it mean? Ask three people, you will probably get three different answers.

The market is growing for green real estate, with certified properties selling faster or commanding a 5, 10, even 15% premium in some markets. Buyers are starting to look for environmental features in their properties. This is not a trend like shag carpeting, something that will be out of style in the next decade. Environmental features have moved from the domain of hippies into mainstream life because they make sense on so many levels.

So what does green mean in relation to real estate? That will vary depending on who is making the claim. If a house is being advertised as green, ask questions. Some Realtor will advertise green if a house has compact florescent light bulbs and an Energy Star dishwashesr. While these are great things and a good place to start, the serious environmental homeowner will consider calling a house green with only these features greenwashing, a form of a false advertising.

Get specific with environmental features. Is the landscaping done with native vegetation and landscaped to conserve water? Does the house have passive solar orientation and deep awnings to reduce summer solar gain? Say so.

The listing Realtor should put together a detailed list of environmental features to be distributed to any potential buyer. These features can be extensive and can include the following:
  • R values for insulation
  • efficiency rating for windows
  • native landscaping, xeriscaping and if the land has been maintained by organic standards
  • presence of recycled or reclaimed materials in building of new construction or remodeling
  • LEED or Energy Star certification, or other local third party certification
  • presence of alternative energy systems, ie wind turbines, photo-voltaic or passive solar arrays, geo-thermal installation and more.
  • Energy Star furnace, water heater, appliances
  • water conserving appliances, shower, toilets
  • if any third party inspections have been done for mold, radon, indoor air quality, water quality or other aspect.
  • allergy reducing flooring, sustainable cork or bamboo flooring or recycled carpeting
  • radiant barrier
  • alternative building method, ie berm, adobe, strawbale.

There are countless ways in which even existing construction homes can be marketed as environmental. The key is being specific and honest about what makes the home green.

Just say no to greenwashing.

Next part, third party certifications for green homes...

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