By Elden Freeman
Awareness of ecological issues has never been higher, and its growth
approaches critical mass. In nearly every industry, stand-out examples of
initiatives by established market leaders or of attention-grabbing upstarts
are steering attention and media coverage toward green, carbon-neutral and
Whether it be in greener power, as evidenced by the popularity of Bullfrog
Power, or in hybrid vehicles, in which the Prius is the ne plus ultra
of consumer brand identification with green automotive transport, the
importance of staying relevant and anticipating consumer needs is imperative.
The National Association of Green Agents and Brokers is the leading group in
Canada that assists real estate professionals in greening their practice.
In today’s fast-changing landscape, early and effective adoption of necessary
business practices can make the difference in determining whether a business
stays competitive. Indeed, business history is rife with examples of
organizations that first anticipate a given need, and by executing on that
need ahead of competitors they become the defining brand that consumers
identify in their given sector. Names like Google and Microsoft connote
hegemonic dominance of their respective business fields, and yet both
companies are still relatively young. The ability to read a radically dynamic
marketplace and anticipate structural and social changes in how business
operates can be key to establishing a strong market position.
Environmental concerns are prominent in people’s minds, and they aren’t going
to become any less prevalent anytime soon. In this busy election year,
partisans of all stripes mentioned the environment in their campaign
platforms, whatever the specifics of their strategies. In some jurisdictions,
regulatory change at the government level is already underway. “Our provincial
government has recently announced a new $60 million rebate program for
existing homes to help with energy retrofits. As a real estate board, we need
to be updating our members on these new incentives so they can offer this
information to both sellers and new buyers,” says Dennis Fimrite, education
and green task force chair at the Victoria Real Estate Board.
VREB’s involvement with NAGAB helps it do just that: “Realtors help people
make the biggest financial decision of their lives and more and more of those
decision makers want to know about the energy conservation measures that exist
in the home they might be buying. Given that buyers want this information,
sellers need advice from their Realtors about what they could do to make their
properties more ‘energy ready’ for sale,” says Fimrite.
With prospective buyers and sellers interested in their options for home
retrofitting and renovation, NAGAB sponsor Home Depot has an Eco Options
program to assist its customers.
“It’s easy to make simple changes around the home to save energy, conserve
water, reduce waste and have a positive affect on the environment. Homeowners
just need to know how, and that’s where The Home Depot can help,” says Joanna
Caners, Eco Options manager at Home Depot Canada. The ability of a Realtor to
point to a well-known name with a parallel program like that at Home Depot is
a message of competent reassurance, as well as showing clients that going
green needn’t necessarily mean going far out of their way.
Especially in a time of potential uncertainty, the prospect of ensuring one’s
home is both ecologically and economically sustainable is the best message one
can pass on to a client. “I think being green is important to a Realtor only
if it resonates to them on some level,” says Angela Bailey, Toronto-based
eco-Realtor. “On a personal level, I have always been aware and a champion of
the environment. I reduce, reuse and recycle. I love being out in nature. I
want to be a part of the environmental solution, and want a career that
reflects my commitment and that is why I am steering myself toward a green
It is the abilities that NAGAB membership offers, and the distinction that its
certification gives, that make it so useful in optimally positioning your real
estate practice for the years ahead.
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). He
cares passionately about the environment and practices what he preaches,
powering his house with solar panels, driving an eco friendly Toyota Yaris and
biking when possible. 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;