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Guest blog entry by Gary Ashton REALTOR®
The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage

What Constitutes Green?

There is mounting evidence, in all three countries that green features serve to increase property values, but there is less agreement on just what features are included, and how much the value boost. One area of consensus is that “green” extends beyond the bounds of energy efficiency. While contemporary green building standards stem from initiatives that were begun decades ago, a shift in emphasis has taken place that will lead into the future. The scope of concern has been broadened, both for commercial and residential development, to include the “health of buildings” as well as their operational efficiency and cost. Many resources exist for real estate agents who are interested in learning more about green standards, verifications and certification programs. The Home Energy Information Guide represents a comprehensive effort, making a wealth of information available, and outlining ways to discuss and disseminate that information for the benefit of buyers and sellers alike. As the report notes, seven of 10 households maintain that energy is of prime importance, but a mere 35 percent say they are satisfied “with their current home’s performance.” That’s a wide gap and one that should be addressed. Robert Mellon, chief operating officer of the Green Building Council of Australia, noted that “comfort and benefit” will become the benchmark for green technology, whether it pertains to solar heating or LED lighting. He notes that what is considered green today was only “aspirational” a decade ago, adding that, “We’d like to think in five or 10 years’ time the thing that we call green will be what people are demanding as standard.”

Telling the Public the Benefits

In the U.S. the National Green Building Standard (NGBD) offers independent certification that goes well beyond energy efficiency, mandating that homes achieve high
marks in five other key areas. Performance is evaluated in terms of:
• Site Design
• Resource Management
• Water Efficiency
• Indoor Environmental Quality
• Building Operation and Maintenance, and
• Energy Efficiency

Energy Labels and Green Certifications

There are numerous other standards, including LEED, Energy Star, independent certifications, and local utility guarantees. Because Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors, there is an increased awareness that both physical and mental health can be improved if homes and offices, schools and factories are designed to promote wellness.In much the same way, real estate agents can have a positive effect on home environmental quality by learning about green certifications and verified energy information. Many MLS listings include those disclosures already. Perhaps soon, all will. However, according to Mahesh Ramanujam, chief operating officer of the US Green
Building Council, “If exercise makes us healthy as individuals, then green building is the exercise of our time for the legacy we leave for future generations. . .” He insists that we can all improve the quality of our indoor space, and we can do it “at little or no cost.”

Why would we hesitate, then?