Greenrealestate: Raising eco-awareness

Green Real Estate May 13, 2009

By Elden Freeman

Environmental concerns are ubiquitous. Although economics have taken a front seat in most discussions these days, the environment is not far behind. Events such as Earth Day contribute to raising awareness about environmental impact and the ways in which people can act to manage their ecological footprint.
 
With concern about the environment at such a high priority, individuals and organizations who can deliver information and steps that people can take to improve the environment are in a strong position to deliver their message.
 
It was with this educational objective in mind that the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) partnered with Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment through the Go Green Fund to assemble a Home Energy Conservation information kit and distribute it to Realtors. The idea was to provide a single source of highly usable information to Realtors, who in turn could act as hubs to pass this information on to homeowners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also reduce the costs of home ownership.
 
The study has resulted in a province-wide savings of 1,414 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, an excellent response based on a smaller than expected tracked distribution number. Feedback from homeowners was extremely positive, and the net effect of the efficiency-enhancing measures taken was far greater than was expected.
 
“The message is getting out to Realtors,” says Jennifer Sikic, a course designer for NAGAB who contributed to the information kit. “We are providing them with some real concrete information that they can take to homeowners, which opens the door for them to have a conversation about home energy efficiency with their clients. We’re paving the way – it’s still early on in our efforts. I think that within six to 12 months we’ll see some real benefits coming back.”
 
Realtor feedback was similarly positive, indicating that the kit helped Realtors effectively communicate to buyers and sellers how the green factor of a given home could save them money. It also helps Realtors assess how green houses are, and provide a clear point-by-point list of how and where sellers and buyers could save money on a given property. As well, Realtors who provided information from the kit on their websites reported a significant increase in traffic, indicating the demand exists for the type of information NAGAB provides.
 
Every year, millions of Canadians take part in Earth Day to help address environmental issues in both local and global contexts. Since 1990, Earth Day Canada has pursued its mission to improve the state of the environment by empowering and helping Canadians to take positive environmental action. The work Earth Day Canada does in promoting environmental awareness is one of the many factors contributing to a greater awareness of ecological issues in all markets, not just real estate, and dovetails with NAGAB’s mission to raise awareness of how energy can be saved in the home. Now more than ever, the benefits conferred by NAGAB membership and education provide a vital edge for real estate professionals who want to maintain a relevant and competitive practice.
 
Elden Freeman B.A., M.E.S., AGB, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB). Freeman believes that Realtors across Canada can play an important role in educating their clients on increasing energy efficiency, conservation and reducing green house gas emissions. (416) 536-7325, www.nagab.org, info@nagab.org.