‘Green’ certification will enhance business

Green Real Estate Jul 15, 2009

By Elden Freeman

New environmental standards are coming in all of North America’s biggest industries. With the effective nationalization of a large chunk of America’s automobile manufacturers (and a corresponding investment in Canada by our federal government), policy makers have made it clear that guidelines and potentially new regulations will be implemented in the auto industry. In this and other areas of business, Canada’s government has said that it will follow America’s lead.
Personal transportation is one of the mainstays of this continent’s economy, and it contributes to a great deal of each individual’s impact on the environment. But where and how we choose to live in our homes has as significant an impact as how we get from place to place, and while much attention is currently focused on new developments in automotive business, technology, and regulation, similarly revolutionary changes in awareness and practices are coming to the real estate business.
Though Canada has yet to implement a complete plan for regulating environmental and energy efficiency standards in the home, a wide variety of incentive programs across all levels of government shows that the first steps toward a comprehensive ecological rethink of how consumers and businesses think about the home are underway.
The period we are in right now can be confusing to those who haven’t studied up on all the rebates and programs available, as well as the best practices in construction and building certifications for both new and old homes – not to mention corresponding equivalents in commercial real estate. Countries such as Britain and Germany lead the way with their comprehensive, easy to use and understand home emissions regulation. While Canada will probably adopt a similar system in the future, real estate practitioners need to be ahead of the curve in order to position themselves as leaders in this new field of awareness, and educate themselves in order to adapt and take advantage of a changing marketplace.
In addition to the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers’ current educational and certification initiatives, NAGAB is introducing the Corporate Greenrealestate Leaders program to recognize those real estate boards and businesses focusing on their environmental impact by adopting sustainable practices in their day-to-day business. In addition to generating their own savings and reducing a business’ ecological impact, one of the strongest arguments a Green Agent can make in favour of making a home more energy-efficient and earth-friendly is that those same practices are used at his office. As well, in a period when so many companies try to brand and position themselves as “green” without much substance behind their claim, being able to list in detail the environmentally friendly practices of your organization both burnishes the organization’s reputation and contributes to educational outreach toward the client. When clients see that businesses understand how ecologically sound practices also save money, this encourages them to make their housing more eco-friendly and to adopt conservation habits that are more environmentally sustainable.
The Greenrealestate Leaders application process is straightforward. Certifications are graded turquoise, jade, and emerald, in ascending order according to company commitment to sound ecological practices. NAGAB also publicizes certified organizations in order to promote awareness about organizations that pursue green policies in their workplace. This includes listing in the NAGAB Greenrealestate office index, listing on the association’s homepage, inclusion in email newsletters, and lobby certificates and window decals for promotional office display.
For more information about how to green your organization or practice, and to apply or find out more information about the Corporate Greenrealestate Leaders program, visit www.nagab.org.
Elden Freeman  B.A., M.E.S, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB). Freeman says he believes that Realtors across Canada can play an important role in educating their clients on increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (416) 536-7325; elden@nagab.org.