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On Common Ground: Summer 2008


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The Sustainable Future

In this issue of On Common Ground, we present the many approaches that REALTORS®, home builders, school of cials, environmentalists, public officials and concerned citizens are using to shape communities into sustainable human environments — communities that make better use of our resources and reduce the damage we leave behind.

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On Common Ground: Summer 2008

  1. 1. • Green Homes • Marketing Sustainability • Eco-Friendly Schools The SUMMER 2008 Future
  2. 2. Sustainable Smart Growth While many de nitions for sustainable greater fuel-ef ciency. A more dif cult task development have been put forward, for most Americans is reducing the miles the simplest test for sustainability may they must drive. It is smart growth that be “if we continue doing things this way, will help achieve this reduction, if coupled will future generations have food to eat, with more ef cient use and conservation clean water to drink, a functioning natural of land. environment and a functioning economy?” In this issue of On Common Ground, As the seriousness of climate change we present the many approaches that sinks in, sustainable development and its REALTORS®, home builders, school components, “green building” and smart of cials, environmentalists, public of cials growth, are increasingly seen not just as an and concerned citizens are using to shape improvement, but as vital to humans’ well- communities into sustainable human being now and in the future. environments—communities that make Three primary components of the built better use of our resources and reduce environment signi cantly contribute to the damage we leave behind. Green the greenhouse gases responsible for building is just the start; this issue also climate change—the development of land, includes transportation alternatives, transportation, and the construction and the local food movement, walkable operation of buildings. Our response to neighborhoods, “green infrastructure” global warming must address all of these. and eco-friendly schools. It will take all Energy ef cient buildings are achieving of these and more to create sustainable greater market acceptance, and many communities—sustainability requires consumers are switching to vehicles with substantial, and sustained, commitment. For more information on NAR and smart growth, go to For more information on NAR and Housing Opportunity, go to On Common Ground is published twice a year by the Government Affairs division of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR), and is distributed free of charge. The publication presents a wide range of views on smart growth issues, with the goal of encouraging a dialogue among REALTORS®, elected of cials and other interested citizens. The opin- ions expressed in On Common Ground are those of the authors and do not necessarily re ect the opinions or policy of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, its members or af liate organizations. Editor Special Issue Co-Editor Joseph R. Molinaro Hugh Morris Manager, Smart Growth Programs Smart Growth and Community Outreach Programs NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® 500 New Jersey Avenue, NW 500 New Jersey Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20001 Washington, DC 20001 Distribution For more copies of this issue or to be placed on our mailing list for future issues of On Common Ground, please contact Ted Wright, NAR Government Affairs, at (202) 383-1206 or 2 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2008
  3. 3. On Common Ground Summer 2008 What is a Sustainable House? 4 by Brad Broberg Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Sustain Here Comes the Green Neighborhood 10 by David Goldberg Green Infrastructure 18 by Brad Broberg Marketing a Sustainable Future REALTORS® Connect Buyers with Energy Saving Homes 24 by Steve Wright Seeking Green REALTOR® Associations Provide a Helping Hand to Achieve Sustainability. 28 by Steve Wright Two-Wheeled Sustainability 34 by Barbara McCann Walk This Way American Cities Test Strategies to Promote Alternative Transportation 40 by Judy Newman Learning to Conserve Eco-Friendly Schools Built for Future Generations 48 by Christine Sexton A Growing Trend Smart Foods from Smart Growth 54 by John Van Gieson REALTORS® Take Action 60 Making Smart Growth Happen On Common Ground thanks the following contributors and organizations for photographs, illustrations and artist renderings reprinted in this issue: Art Allen, Transit for Livable Communities; Frankie Barker, Matanuska-Susitna Borough; Chris Bartle, Green Key Real Estate; Jacquie Berger, Just Food; Walter Brown and Loren Heyns, Green Street Properties; Erica Burt, Farr Associates; Chris Carrel, Friends of the Hylebos; Ted Chalgren, Cox and Dinkins, Inc.; City of Aurora, Ill.; Camila Clark, Maryland Of ce of Tourism; Paul DeMaio, Virginia Division of Transportation; Mary Ebeling, Sheboygan County Planning and Resources; Mark Gashler, Ecobroker®; Samnetta Gaye, Southside Community Land Trust; Lori Ito Hardenbergh, Sidwell Friends School; Bob Hill, Vermont Association of REALTORS®; Tricia Jumonville, ERA Colonial Real Estate; Ashley Katz, U.S. Green Building Council; Michael Kiefer, Green DC Realty; Matt Kolb, Pedal to Properties; Nathan Norris, The Waters; Caroline Novak, Lancaster Farmland Trust; Barbara Richey, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy; Rhonda Rosenberg, King County Housing Authority; Sarah Soczka, Boelter + Lincoln; and Craig Tackabery, Walk Bike Marin. 3
  4. 4. What is a S U S T A I N A B L E H O U S E ? By Brad Broberg G reen used to be just another color. Now—like good schools and granite countertops—it’s also a primary con- sideration for homebuyers. That’s true even when buyers aren’t sure what green means. “Some people know what to expect, but other people say, ‘I want a green home. What does that entail?’” said As the demand for green REALTOR® Chris Boardman, a certified EcoBroker® with Intero Real Estate Services in Santa Cruz, Calif. homes grows, confusion about Boardman’s training—he earned his EcoBroker® certifi- what it means to be green is cation through EcoBroker® International—makes it easy cause for concern. for him to answer that question. In fact, he often answers it before it’s asked. It’s a reflex. “When I walk through a As the demand for green homes grows, confusion about house with people, I’ll point out that the windows are what it means to be green is cause for concern. Two outdated or the attic needs insulation,” he said. organizations are helping buyers, builders and REAL- Yet not everybody is so well-versed. Greenwashing—the TORS® unravel the green riddle by offering nationwide act of misleading consumers about environmental green home rating systems. practices, products or services—is an ongoing problem. Late last year, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) “Some home listings put green in there and there’s really launched Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design nothing green about it at all,” Boardman said. (LEED) for Homes. The National Association of Home- For buyers hoping to separate the green from the green- builders (NAHB) launched the National Green Building washed, one bit of good news is the increasing number Program in February of 2008, which includes the National of local green certification programs. More and more Green Building Standard (NGBS) begun last year. builders, seeking to promote their green building prac- While the nuts and bolts may differ, the basic mecha- tices, are joining these programs, which ensure homes nisms of the two programs—both voluntary—are simi- reflect at least some shade of green. The catch is the sys- lar. Each mandates certain green features, awards points tems aren’t widely recognized outside their regions, and for optional features, requires independent inspections they don’t use a uniform rating or certification process. and has different levels of green certification. Whichever 4 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2008
  5. 5. A 2007 survey by NAHB revealed that “reduced energy costs” was the number one reason respondents would choose to buy a green home. program a builder chooses, homes built to NGBS or remodelers can take to become a Green Certified Profes- LEED specifications deliver more than a green sheen. sional. NARI also offers a 12-session green education course that includes energy efficiency and conservation, What makes a home truly green? Common benchmarks indoor air quality, efficient use of resources, recycling of include: demolition material and renewable energy sources. • Energy (effective insulation; high-performance win- While NARI does not certify projects, the NGBS be- dows; high-efficiency lighting). ing developed by NAHB will include a rating system • Indoor air (VOC-free finishes, adhesives and carpet- for green remodels. In addition, the USGBC and the ing; radon-resistant construction; mechanical and American Society of Interior Designers Foundation natural ventilation). • Water (low-flow toilets and showerheads; rainwater harvesting; graywater recycling). • Landscaping (little or no lawn; native plants; limited irrigation). • Building products (materials with recycled content; salvaged materials; lumber from certified forests). • Siting/land use (conservation of natural features; com- pact development; access to transit). Look for those features to become more and more mainstream with every passing year. By 2010, green homes will account for 10 percent of the new homes built annually, up from 2 percent in 2006, according to a McGraw-Hill SmartMarket Report. Besides the growing number of new homes being built green, many existing homes are getting a green make- over. Late last year, the National Association of the Re- modeling Industry (NARI) began offering an exam that 5
  6. 6. Glenwood Park in Atlanta, Ga., is an entire community built around green building principles. recently rolled out REGREEN, a set of guidelines for green remodeling projects. REGREEN does not include a rating system. However, remodeling projects in which a home is gutted can seek a LEED for Homes rating. Many of the benchmarks for new green homes are equally applicable to green makeovers. Specific tips from the USGBC include: harnessing solar power; plug- ging air leaks; using readily renewable materials such as bamboo; switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs; replacing forced-air heating with radiant floor heating; installing a programmable thermostat; and switching to Energy Star appliances (more about that later). If energy efficiency is a builder, buyer or remodeler’s sole Right now, the green feature with the most buzz is goal, the Energy Star program is a third nationwide cer- energy efficiency. A 2007 survey by NAHB revealed tification option. “Energy Star is very, very specifically that “reduced energy costs” was the number one rea- designed to define highly energy-efficient products,” son respondents would choose to buy a green home or said Sam Rashkin, national director of Energy Star for remodel their existing home to make it greener. Next Homes. “We set the bar.” came “because it would be healthier” and it’s “the right Energy Star is a joint program of the Environmental thing to do for the environment.” Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Ener- Energy Star is very specifically designed to define highly energy-efficient products. 6 ON COMMON GROUND
  7. 7. gy (DOE). When it debuted in 1992, the first products it developed energy standards for were computers and computer monitors. Since then, Energy Star has estab- lished performance standards for more than 50 product categories, and the Energy Star label is now displayed on thousands of individual products. Many Energy Star standards—encompassing everything from windows to lighting to ventilation—are referenced in the scorecards of local and national green home rating systems. In addition, builders can now earn an Energy Star label for an entire house. To qualify for an Energy Star for Homes label, a home must be at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Unit Code. It also must include additional energy-saving fea- tures—these typically make homes 20-30 percent more energy efficient than standard homes. “A lot of green building programs use Energy Star as a blueprint,” said Rashkin. “We provide a platform for defining…energy efficiency.” In fact, both LEED and NGBS demand that homes achieve the same 15 percent A lot of green building programs improvement in energy efficiency as Energy Star. use Energy Star as a blueprint. Courtesy of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, ©Boyd Loving Pedestrian-friendly walkways are just one of the many benefits that sustainable communities offer, as highlighted by the Hudson River Greenway in New York. SUMMER 2008 7
  8. 8. Energy Star recently added a related label for indoor air ity of new commercial buildings. Over the years, it’s gained quality and is creating another for water conservation. wide acceptance, leading to requests that it be expanded. Together with energy efficiency, they form a bundle of “Many people were saying it would be great to have a certi- standards that green building programs could use as fication program for home construction,” said Ashley Katz, a cornerstone for explaining their own rating system, communications coordinator for the USGBC. Rashkin said. After concluding a pilot phase in spring 2007, LEED After 15 years, Energy Star has built strong brand aware- for Homes made its formal debut in the fall of that year. ness. In a recent survey, 70 percent of the respondents So far, more than 500 homes have been rated, with an- recognized the label. “We offer a very clear definition to other 1,000 plus in the pipeline. That’s a drop in the consumers,” he said. bucket compared to the program’s goal. Brand awareness is also a goal of the new green home “We expect to have one million certified homes by programs launched by the USGBC and the NAHB. 2010,” said Katz. With green homes expected to ac- “They both very much want to be THE green program count for 10 percent of new home construction by in the marketplace,” Rashkin said. “There’s a lot of de- 2010, that’s not as farfetched as it sounds, she said. bate about who’s the greenest. We stay away from it. We “People are becoming more and more interested in green can work with both programs.” homes and green building. They’re wondering, ‘how do If LEED sounds familiar, that’s because the USGBC intro- I know if my home is green?’” said Katz. “That’s what duced the program in 2000 as a way to rate the sustainabil- LEED offers.” Cox and Dinkins, a professional civil engineering and land surveying firm based in Columbia, S.C., developed the first commercial LEED certified building in South Carolina. ©2003 Brian Dressler Photography ©2003 Brian Dressler Photography 8 ON COMMON GROUND
  9. 9. LEED ratings are managed by a net- work of LEED for Homes Providers— local organizations with experience supporting green building. Residents of The Waters community in Montgomery, Ala., enjoy a warm day on their porch, which was spe- cifically built to shade the interior rooms to cut down on energy costs during the hot summer. LEED ratings are managed by a network of LEED for independent inspection. Ratings by local associations Homes Providers—local organizations with experience may or may not. supporting green building. They contract with the Like LEED, the NGBS relies on local professionals to USGBC to market the program, review scorecards and manage the rating process—including inspections. The oversee independent inspections. NAHB Research Center awards final certification— Builders earn points for meeting LEED requirements in bronze, silver, gold and emerald—based on points nine categories: innovation and design process; location awarded in seven categories: water efficiency; energy and linkages; sustainable sites; water efficiency; energy and efficiency; resource efficiency; lot and site development; atmosphere; materials and resources; indoor environmental indoor environmental quality; global impact; and hom- quality; awareness and education; and energy and atmo- eowner education. sphere. Depending on a project’s total points, the USGBC Working with the International Code Council, the awards a rating of certified, silver, gold or platinum. NAHB is seeking certification from the American Na- The NGBS is based on Model Green Home Building tional Standards Institute (ANSI) for the NGBS—a pro- Guidelines the NAHB published in 2005 to help its cess that ensures extensive public comment and consensus member associations create local green building pro- decisions. “This will be the first and only residential green grams such as Triangle Green in North Carolina and the building standard certified by ANSI,” said Schmidt. ● Green Building Initiative in St. Louis, Mo. Together, NAHB member associations have rated more than ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: 100,000 green homes. United States Green Building Council (LEED The idea behind the NGBS is to offer builders another for Homes): rating option that is uniform as well as more demand- National Association of Home Builders ing, said Calli Schmidt, director of environmental com- (NGBS): munications with the NAHB. Energy Star for Homes: “You can still build a green home with the [2005] Brad Broberg is a Seattle-based freelance writer spe- Guidelines,” said Schmidt. “But the new standard re- cializing in business and development issues. His work flects the most recent in technology and knowledge.” appears regularly in the Puget Sound Business Jour- A key difference: ratings under the NGBS require an nal and the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. SUMMER 2008 9
  10. 10. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Sustain. Here Comes the (Green) Neighborhood By David Goldberg s every REALTOR® knows, most peo- A ple who are looking for a place to live are shopping for more than four walls and a roof. They’re seeking a neighbor- hood that reflects what they value in life. But where does that leave the fam- ily who is looking to live in a way that is as environmen- tally sustainable and energy-efficient as possible? It’s true there are plenty of cities with labeling programs designed to help buyers identify a “green” home. But how do you know when you’ve found a green neighborhood? When you’re building a green neighborhood, you’re fundamen- tally concerned with the size of two footprints: land and carbon. 10 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2008
  11. 11. Glenwood Park will harvest approximately 35,000 gallons of water per week using a combination of storm water and well water, thus avoiding any use of potable water from the city of Atlanta for its drought resistant landscaping. Smart growth focuses on the land footprint and efficiency of resources. Some argue that the criteria for a green neighborhood are fairly well satisfied by building according to the principles of smart growth. That means conserving land, focusing development first in areas that are already developed, providing transportation options other than cars, and creating mixed-use development that makes neighborhoods compact and walkable. Others say that smart growth, as it is typically discussed, does not quite touch all the bases of sustainability. “When you’re building a green neighborhood, you’re fundamentally concerned with the size of two foot- prints: land and carbon,” says Walter Brown, a developer The term “green neighborhood” is relatively new. Al- who strives to build green. The land footprint refers to though there is no set definition, there appears to be the impact of development on once-natural areas—the a growing consensus around many of the most visible amount of land consumed and how it is treated—while features a green neighborhood should have. There is the carbon footprint represents the amount of fossil even a new national program to certify neighborhoods fuels burned as part of daily life. “Smart growth focuses as ecologically sound and energy-efficient. Yet at the on the land footprint and efficiency of resources. Green same time, there is disagreement over how to make the neighborhoods marry that with concerns like tree pres- neighborhoods sustainable over generations, and what ervation, storm-water management, energy-efficient green really means. heating and cooling equipment…it’s taking smart Green versus smart growth to the next level, adding another layer.” Experts interviewed for this article were unanimous Others suggest that building green neighborhoods on one point: collecting green-certified houses into a means following the old environmental mantra: Re- conventional subdivision on a former farm field at the duce. Reuse. Recycle. Reduce the land consumed, the edge of the metro area would not a green neighborhood miles traveled by car and the consumption of energy. make. Beyond that, there was little unanimity. Reuse the buildings and infrastructure of existing neigh- 11
  12. 12. borhoods, use waste as a source of energy, and reuse generation after generation. Neighborhoods will always “gray” water to maintain landscaping. Recycle building be regenerated to some degree over time, but the under- materials, and even the land itself—the post-industrial lying “bones” must be excellent, or else the neighbor- brownfields and fallow parking-lot “grayfields” around hood will fall into abandonment. defunct shopping centers. The next most important criterion is that the neighbor- Bert Gregory, president and CEO of Mithun, a Seattle- hood be “walkable,” says Doug Farr, a Chicago architect based urban design firm that has made green develop- and principal author of the newly published book, ment a focus of its practice, defines a green neigh- Sustainable Urbanism. “Being walkable means more than The neighborhood has to be complete, with homes, stores and schools in the right balance so that you have a critical mass of destinations to walk to and enough families nearby to make them viable. Photo by Rick Keating The Jim Wiley Community Center is a key piece in the Greenbridge redevelopment effort The Greenbridge Green drain demon- near Seattle, Wa. Green features include a cupola which regulates air flow and ventilation, a strates how gravity moves from the roof hydronic heat system, solar panels and a number of energy and water efficiency features. tops to a clean drain system that helps protect Puget Sound. borhood with this thumbnail sketch: “It is compact, merely having the facilities for walking. The neighbor- complete, connected and uses resources wisely. It needs hood has to be complete, with homes, stores and schools to be appropriately located, respectful of environmental in the right balance so that you have a critical mass of conditions and connected to a transportation system destinations to walk to and enough families nearby to that allows for a mix of travel options.” make them viable.” Excellent human habitat Why is walkability so critical? “Fish swim, humans walk. Green neighborhoods, first and foremost, should shine There can be no more primary activity that benefits as examples of highly-valued human habitat, Gregory people more than walking. … And it’s eco-effective.” says. Only those places that meet the timeless needs and Designing a neighborhood with the intention of provid- desires of human beings will succeed in the marketplace ing a safe, inviting way to walk to many daily activities 12 ON COMMON GROUND
  13. 13. automatically reduces both the land and carbon foot- Green neighborhoods should prints, putting more destinations within a smaller geo- graphic area so that residents use less energy getting to shine as examples of highly- and fro. At the same time, complete streets—designed valued human habitat. to accommodate cars but also to make walking and bik- ing inviting and free of hazard—draw more people. This amounts to more “eyes on the street,” making the area safer from crime, Farr says. The third principle, a corollary to being walkable, is high-quality public transportation. That means a com- prehensive transit network that connects residents of the green neighborhood to the broader region, providing access to the jobs and cultural opportunities that cannot be contained within a single neighborhood. Such a sys- tem also provides a hedge against oil dependence. “The future is not certain and $10 gallon gas could be five years away or 20 years away,” Farr says. “It is not fair to give families no other choice but to accept whatever hit to the budget the oil companies demand.” Some green neighborhoods might take the form of “transit- Photo by Rick Keating The Greenbridge development project incorporated art in several different ways throughout the community while maintaining greener principles. Photo by Rick Keating SUMMER 2008 13
  14. 14. oriented development,” or TOD—dense housing and of infrastructure. (For more on green infrastructure, see commercial nodes built around a high-capacity transit story on page 18.) station, usually rail. Other green neighborhoods might “Links to nature should be in every neighborhood,” adds be built farther away from a high-volume transit line Farr. “One way to think about it is, how far would you have and connect to that larger system via bus and streetcar. to drive your kids to go play with frogs in a stream?” Literally green Walter Brown is senior vice president for development Green neighborhoods should be literally green, Gregory and environmental affairs at Atlanta-based Green Street says. There should be tree-lined streets, planting strips, Properties. Providing adequate greenery in a dense ur- pocket parks, forest preserves, community gardens, ban setting presents a thorny design challenge, he says, rooftop gardens and more. Aspects of a natural environ- ment take the edge off of urban life in myriad ways, and provide important ecological services. “Even the highest density environments—especially the highest density environments—should take advantage of natural sys- tems’ ability to process stormwater, to absorb carbon, or to curb the heat island effect,” says Gregory. This “green infrastructure” is as critical to long-term health of a neighborhood, city and region as every other kind Aspects of a natural environment take the edge off of urban life in myriad ways, and provide impor- tant ecological services. Residents of Glenwood Park gather together to celebrate the grand open- ing of the community. 14 ON COMMON GROUND
  15. 15. We created a central green that collects all the rainwater and cleans it naturally, and gives each person a larger park and a place to play. but not an insurmountable one. When his company built Glenwood Park, a green, new urbanist neighbor- hood on recycled industrial land in the city of Atlanta, they were able to find a single solution to storm-water runoff and green-space needs. “Our houses have small yards and not a lot of green which has been adopted with gusto by a growing number around each building, but we created a central green of architects, developers and local governments. Now, the that collects all the rainwater and cleans it naturally, Green Building Council is applying a similar set of stan- and gives each person a larger park and a place to play dards to green neighborhoods in a pilot program called that exceeds what they could do on their individual lot.” LEED for Neighborhood Developments. There can be other bonuses to smaller private lots as LEED-ND, as it is known, was developed in conjunc- well. “The remnant green that people have gets more tion with the Congress for the New Urbanism and the intensive attention. People make beautiful spaces, much Natural Resources Defense Council, with participation more interesting than the quarter-acre backyard,” the from many other organizations. The rating system applies taming of which often means still greater carbon emis- a three-tiered screen to development projects, evaluating sions, as well as lawn chemicals. them by “location and linkage,” “neighborhood pattern LEED for neighborhoods and design” and “green construction and technology.” Over the last several years the U.S. Green Building Coun- Within those areas projects may win credits for compact cil has administered the LEED certification program for development, affordable housing, reuse of historic build- the environmental performance of individual buildings, ings, reduced parking footprint, solar orientation, prox- SUMMER 2008 15
  16. 16. heavily represented—green neighborhoods are expected to play a strong role in that state’s ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Yet another element: Social sustainability While LEED-ND awards credits for the inclusion of affordable housing, accessibility to people of all income levels is not a prerequisite for certification. That omis- sion could encourage neighborhoods that are “green” but less than sustainable, especially if they end up being exclusive, says Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority in Seattle. “Genuine sustainability will require social sustainability Genuine sustainability will require as well as environmental sustainability,” Norman said. “We’ve learned from hard experience that if people are social sustainability as well as en- isolated in concentrations of poverty or excluded from vironmental sustainability. living where there are jobs and educational opportuni- ties, the bricks and mortar don’t survive.” Norman’s imity to housing and jobs, and a host of other features. All agency is trying to create spaces that are both green told, LEED-ND has nine required benchmarks and 49 and inclusive. One example is Greenbridge, a former possible categories in which to earn credits toward silver, housing project that has been redeveloped into a mixed- gold or platinum certification. According to the Green income eco-village with shops, a school, and transporta- Building Council, “LEED certification provides inde- tion to a key commercial corridor. pendent, third-party verification that a development’s Achieving the level of sustainability Norman envisions is location and design meet accepted high levels of environ- the ultimate goal, says Brown, but it will require public/ mentally responsible, sustainable development.” private partnerships. “It’s a continuum. There are so The 200-plus projects accepted into the pilot phase many layers you can address: affordability, life cycle of come from 39 states and six countries. California is the buildings and the inhabitants, reuse over time. With 16 ON COMMON GROUND
  17. 17. Glenwood Park, we were trying to address as many as we Will that pitch work? In many places it’s already work- conceivably could.” ing, says Brown. “I used to think, I’m going to do green Will people buy it? because I want to do it,” adding that he did expect to In the U.S., few innovations succeed unless they can receive some positive attention from both the public thrive in the marketplace. Green neighborhoods are no and the regulatory community. “But more and more, exception, Farr acknowledges. “If you’re a REALTOR® green is ‘in,’ and I do think there is a large and growing and you’re trying to sell a green neighborhood, you’re market. In the market I want to work with, the creative making a very different pitch from what we’re used to. types, it is very important. It’s almost more of a question It’s not granite countertops, or larger closets. It’s talking of, if you don’t do it, what section of the market are you about a place of choices. You want to stay home and losing? And that’s only going to grow in the future.” ● work, there’s stuff to do. If you want to age in peace David A. Goldberg is the communications director and don’t want to mow your lawn, there’s a place you for Smart Growth America, a nationwide coalition can move to. If you’re just starting out and don’t want based in Washington, D.C. that advocates for land- use policy reform. In 2002, Mr. Goldberg was award- to spend your money on a car, you can use a shared car ed a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University, where he and transit, or walk.” studied urban policy. Glenwood Park will plant more than 1,000 trees and thousands of other plants, flowers and shrubs creating shade and beauty for residents, while also significantly reducing heat island effects. SUMMER 2008 17
  18. 18. GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE “Infrastructure: the substructure or underlying foundation…on which the continuance and growth of a community or state depends.” – Webster’s New World Dictionary By Brad Broberg F reeways and forests. Bridges and bogs. delivering essential eco-services—a.k.a. green infrastruc- Power lines and pastures. ture—demands a far more strategic approach than saving Gray or green, it’s all infrastructure—at least a wetland here or preserving woodlands there, he said. that’s the mindset of a growing segment of McMahon ought to know. As co-author (with Mark Bene- the planning community, from Alaska to dict) of Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Commu- South Carolina. nities, he literally wrote the book on green infrastructure. Think about it, said Ed McMahon, senior resident While there’s more than one take on green infrastruc- fellow for sustainable development at the Urban Land ture—many people use the term to describe engineered Institute. If infrastructure is what society counts on systems such as green roofs, porous pavement and rain to provide essential services, why shouldn’t the green gardens—McMahon considers planning and conserva- stuff—trees that scrub the air, streams that filter runoff, tion to be the movement’s meat and potatoes. fields that produce food—be mentioned in the same His formal definition: an interconnected network of open breath as the gray stuff? space that conserves natural ecosystem values and func- Don’t get McMahon wrong. By and large, trees, streams tions, and provides associated benefits to human popula- and fields are part of most conversations about planning tions. His informal definition: smart conservation. and development—just not for the right reason. Defined that way, green infrastructure becomes a power- Most people appreciate the beauty and the recreational val- ful engine for smart growth, providing a framework for ue of open space. What they fail to recognize, said McMa- planners to decide where growth should occur by first hon, is the nuts-and-bolts role open space plays in everyday deciding—in a very strategic way—where it shouldn’t, life, and the need to plan for it with as much foresight as said McMahon. Curbing sprawl, encouraging clustered when laying out streets, sewers or power lines. development and limiting the need to build gray infra- “It’s underpinning our society the same way as a road,” structure are just some of the smart growth goals that he said. “It isn’t just an amenity. It’s a necessity.” green infrastructure supports. Does that distinction really matter? McMahon believes An example of green infrastructure in action is the El Paso it does. Ensuring that the environment can continue Open Space Plan. By looking at the community’s green 18 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2008
  19. 19. concept, people get the, ‘Ah ha,’ moment,” he said. “I think it has helped push things forward.” Smart growth and green infrastructure are “two sides of the same coin,” writes McMahon in “Green Infrastruc- ture: Smart Conservation for the 21st Century,” a paper he co-authored with Benedict. As communities strive to make better use of existing infrastructure and encourage more compact, walkable, mixed-use development, green infrastructure is precisely the right tool to shape where growth will go, writes McMahon. Besides being smart, green infrastructure can increase the desirability of surrounding land. “There’s proof on the ground that smart growth and green infrastructure can sell real estate and make better communities,” said Bill Kre- New York City is familiar with the benefits successful green infrastructure provides. spaces through the lens of green infrastructure, El Paso was better able to identify areas that ought to be left un- disturbed as well as areas more suitable for development. Another example is New York City’s approach to upgrad- ing its water treatment plants. Instead of spending $6-$8 billion to build new plants intended to meet future re- quirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the city spent $1.5 billion to buy land in the Catskills and protect the watershed from degradation in the first place. Although the green infrastructure argument challenges conventional planning practices, it is proving to be an effective way to address issues of growth and conser- vation in harmony, said McMahon. “When you can identify a lot of things and solidify them around one Ensuring that the environment can continue delivering essen- tial eco-services demands a strategic approach. 19
  20. 20. ager, a principal at Mithun, a Seattle architecture, design In many ways, Maryland was well ahead of the curve and planning firm that specializes in green projects. with long-standing open space and farmland preserva- Green infrastructure may be a relatively new term, but tion programs. But the land was being preserved with it’s not a novel concept. Landscape architect Frederick little consideration of its contribution to the overall eco- Law Olmstead designed networks of connected parks system. “We couldn’t say we were spending the money 100 years ago. And wildlife biologists have long known strategically,” said Bill Jenkins. that linking parks and preserves with natural corri- Jenkins, now with the Environmental Protection Agen- dors—or habitat highways—is the best way to protect cy, was in charge of landscape and watershed analysis native plants and animals. with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Still, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the term green when the state decided to rethink its conservation ef- infrastructure emerged as part of statewide planning forts. “What we wanted to do was identify areas of the efforts in Florida—the Florida Statewide Greenways state worth preserving, from an ecosystem perspective,” System—and Maryland—the GreenPrint program. he said. Maryland followed what has become the template for green infrastructure planning. First, it identified green hubs—sweeping areas hundreds of acres in size and vital to maintaining the state’s ecology. Then it connected the green hubs with green links—ribbons of land such as stream val- leys and ridge lines that function as habitat highways. Today, the GreenPrint program steers public and private preservation efforts toward a system of hubs and links that support essential eco-services in ways that isolated fragments cannot. It’s all about the whole being great- er—and greener—than the sum of its parts. Green infrastructure is an effective way to address issues of growth and conservation in harmony. 20 ON COMMON GROUND
  21. 21. Green infrastructure is open space that is working for you— it’s providing essential services. The 30,000-acre Kettle Moraine State Park features woodlands and prairies—one of the largest open spaces in the Chicago area. “Green infrastructure is open space, but think of it as open space that is working for you,” said Jenkins. “It is providing you with essential services. That’s where the term infrastructure helps.” Chicago Wilderness, a public/private consortium working to protect natural ecosystems in the Chicago region, devel- oped a Green Infrastructure Vision that identified 1.8 mil- lion acres as resource protection areas. The nearly 2 million acres are within a 6 million-acre band that stretches across three states—Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. The resulting map provides a blueprint for connecting and conserving the large areas—500 acres and up—that represent the region’s remaining green infrastructure, said Dennis Dreher, a planner and engineer who was the project manager. What’s not on the agenda is stopping all development throughout the entire 1.8 million acres, Dreher added. More than 360,000 of those acres are already protected as natural public lands. The Green Infrastructure Vision identifies opportunities to add to and tie together those areas, while also recognizing that development will oc- cur in and around them. The vision suggests specific protection strategies for each area that includes accommodating growth where growth is inevitable. Take the 30,000-acre Kettle Moraine in SUMMER 2008 21
  22. 22. Wisconsin. Featuring woodlands, savannas, wetlands the capper is that all of the open space is adjacent to a and prairies, it represents one of the largest open spaces 2,500-acre preserve, making it part of a larger function- in the Chicago region. ing ecosystem. While many parts of the Kettle Moraine are already Unlike GreenPrint in Maryland, the Green Infrastruc- protected, the Green Infrastructure Vision recommends ture Vision developed by Chicago Wilderness is not tied protecting additional areas through acquisition, con- to any state or county conservation programs. Instead, servation easements and conservation development—a it relies on local and regional decision-makers to weave way of regulating development that allows growth while the vision into their planning and conservation efforts. at the same time protecting important natural features. According to Dreher, Chicago Wilderness currently is What does conservation development look like? Prai- working with the seven-county Chicago Metropolitan rie Crossing is a 362-home conservation development Agency for Planning to incorporate green infrastructure northwest of Chicago. The homes are located on a small into a new regional plan. portion of the site’s 667 acres, leaving 350 acres of open The same scenario is unfolding on a smaller scale in space. That’s a step toward green infrastructure, but South Carolina, where the Central Midlands Council of Governments (CMCOG) published Keeping It Green In and around Chicago, area residents work together to manage and conserve green areas. Natural green infrastructure is a lot cheaper than build- ing gray infrastructure. 22 ON COMMON GROUND
  23. 23. in the Midlands, a green infrastructure vision for a four- county region. When Joe Ryan was asked to lead the project, the senior planner said, “Great. What’s green infrastructure?” “It took me a while to get my head around it,” he recalled. Since publishing an initial report and map introducing the concept, Ryan is sold on the green infrastructure ap- Green infrastructure and land-use planning: proach to conservation and planning. “It certainly does • Ensures that both green space and development are make sense,” he said. placed where most needed and appropriate. Now it’s a matter of bringing local decision-makers on • Identifies vital ecological areas and linkages prior to board. “The horse has left the barn,” Ryan said. “If we don’t development in suburban and rural landscapes. do something now, it will be too late in 10 or 20 years.” • Identifies opportunities for the restoration and The timeframe may not be quite as tight in Alaska, but enhancement of naturally functioning systems in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough—a county the size already developed areas. of West Virginia—isn’t taking any chances. Located northeast of Anchorage, the borough is working on a • Enables communities to create a vision that is greater plan that will identify exactly where green infrastructure than the sum of its parts. needs to be preserved, said Frankie Barker, an environ- • Enables conservation and development to be planned mental planner with the borough. in harmony, not in opposition to each other. Although vast tracts are protected by the state and fed- From: “Green Infrastructure: Smart Conservation for the eral governments, local conservation efforts have lagged 21st Century,” by Mark Benedict and Ed McMahon. and linkages are not well protected—hence the need for a green infrastructure plan, said Barker. Brad Broberg is a Seattle-based freelance writer spe- “We’re very fortunate that we still have most of our natu- cializing in business and development issues. His work ral green infrastructure,” Barker said. “If we can keep it, appears regularly in the Puget Sound Business Journal it’s a lot cheaper than building gray infrastructure.” ● and the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. SUMMER 2008 23
  24. 24. Marketing a Sustainable Future REALTORS ® Connect Buyers with Energy Saving Homes. By Steve Wright Norris said even if gasoline spirals above five dollars a W ith soaring energy prices and shrinking pocketbooks abound- gallon and the price of heating/cooling energy contin- ing, sustainability can have a ues to skyrocket, homeowners won’t go broke—they’ll different meaning to every dif- simply learn to adapt. ferent person—ranging from the “Spray foam insulation, energy-efficient windows, solar simplistic to the transcendental. energy, tankless water heaters, energy-star appliances Whether sustainability means checking for energy leaks and high-efficiency HVAC systems are available to own- around that craggy old front door, or adopting practices ers of new homes as well as old homes. The combination to safeguard the planet far into the next centuries for of these technologies permits us to create zero energy future generations, REALTORS® across the nation are homes,” he said. “The big change will not come from taking major steps to help their clients go “green.” self-interest in the seventh generation, it will come from an economic self interest.” REALTOR® Nathan Norris—director of marketing and design for The Waters, a new urbanist community on Alexandria, Virginia REALTOR® Candace Lightner, the fringe of Montgomery, Ala.—believes in a holistic a world-renowned opinion leader who responded to approach to sustainability. a family tragedy by founding Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), is now at the forefront of helping “In our development, we regularly sell people on the buyers become more energy efficient. value of high-efficiency windows, spray foam insula- tion, metal roofs and tankless water heaters,” he said. The sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential “High-efficiency HVAC systems have been harder [to Brokerage gives each buyer a free home energy audit, a sell]—nonetheless, 20 percent of our first 100 homes process valued at $350. had geo-thermal heating and cooling.” “I was trying to think of ways that would set me apart from “Essentially, our clientele look at the long-term ramifica- other REALTORS®,” she said. “I discussed the concept of tions of their decisions. We did an energy audit on the an energy audit and told my buyers if they waited until the first two years of utility bills and we used the conclusions close of escrow, it would be my gift to them.” drawn from that analysis to educate prospective buyers The audit takes about two and a half hours and focuses on the items they should include in their homes.” on identifying major energy leaks in a house. Techni- Norris believes that sustainability includes energy effi- cians measure everything from gaps around doors and ciency within a house’s walls plus a walkable, traditional windows to whether insulation has been properly in- neighborhood development. stalled in attics, basements and crawl spaces. “To me, sustainability means doing things that make The homeowner receives a report that identifies prob- sense over the long run,” he said. “In 1998, I first heard lems and explains how to fix them. of the Native American principle that we owe a duty to “Most people here are doing remodeling,” said Light- ensure the survival of the seventh generation beyond us. ner, who worked on an efficiency project with the U.S. It was wise a long time ago, and it still is today.” Department of Energy and started addressing problems 24 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2008
  25. 25. Sustainability means doing things REALTOR® Mike Kiefer , Certified EcoBroker®, evaluates that make sense over the long run. homes for energy efficiency. in her own 60-plus-year-old house in old Alexandria. “If portunity for REALTORS® to sharpen their focus and you plan on being in the home a number of years and if add to the crucial information they supply to clients. you’re already remodeling, you can do a retrofit to boost “Most consumers are qualified based upon credit and are energy efficiency.” given a picture of PITI as part of owning. But from my Lightner said when going green, it’s best to speak in experience, I know of very few REALTORS® that ever plain English. mention the costs of utilities or home maintenance,” “We’re doing REALTOR® roundtable discussions he said. “Even though utility bills are a reflection of around the country and most REALTORS® are some- lifestyle use, I think it would ultimately be useful for what aware of the issue of green or energy efficiency and consumers/homebuyers to be able to review utility bills they are interested in it, but they don’t know what to do before placing an offer on a home. It is very important next,” she said. “We asked ‘how many of your clients for consumers, when working with a REALTOR®, to are interested in energy efficiency?’ and no hands go up. ask about such matters and request copies. As you can Then we ask ‘how many are concerned about utility imagine, when that first month rolls around and the gas/ bills?’ and the hands go up—the light bulb goes on.” electric/water bills start rolling in—you begin to realize that owning a home is so much more than PITI.” Instead of talking about sustainability and hard sci- ence, Lightner suggests REALTORS® talk to consumers To reduce automobile dependency, Green DC Re- about making homes healthier and safer, as well as more alty gives its clients a Zipcar membership and mileage comfortable, cost effective and durable. voucher. Zipcar members can rent automobiles by the day or hour from many urban locations. Zipcar supple- “Green sounds too far out there,” she said. “Energy effi- ments public transit with individual automobiles avail- cient is more interesting, more something you can touch.” able for a fraction of the cost of car payment, mainte- REALTOR® Michael Kiefer—founder and principal of nance, insurance and fuel. Green DC Realty, an affiliate of Keller Williams Realty “I look at efficiency as being more than just the home. It’s Capital Properties in the Washington D.C.-Maryland about evaluating the consumer’s current life and seeing area—said sustainability requires buyers to look at a where cost effective, efficient improvements can be made,” bigger picture. he said. “In the Metro area, we have ride-sharing firms that “I believe we are in an era when we will see oil rise to take the hassle out of owning a car. I continually look at $200 a barrel in the near future,” he observed. “I think ways of providing home ownership through the removal of part of the problem I am seeing is that the consumer is inefficient expenditures and proving incentives to the con- not entirely sure where to start. Purchasing a home for sumer through [Zipcar] vouchers as part of the purchase.” many is a challenging matter filled with lots of anxiety San Francisco, known as a hotbed of progressive think- and since for many it is their first home, they have not ing and acting for nearly a half century, actually has a been trained to think about what I refer to as the exter- fairly small inventory of green houses. nal costs of owning a home.” REALTOR® Chris Bartle, president and broker of Green Kiefer said the shrinking energy supply and rising cost Key Real Estate, aims to boost the number of green doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom—it can be an op- homes in the City by the Bay as well as nationwide. 25
  26. 26. REALTOR® Tricia Jumonville get calls from buyers who have an allergy to formalde- is known as the Texas “agent hyde or a certain pesticide. Now there are a lot of new with the horse sense,” helping clients with both urban and products that don’t give off any harmful emissions.” rural properties. Bartle’s brokerage recruits highly educated people from a diverse background and makes sure all of them get EcoBroker® training. EcoBroker® is an on-line training course that allows REALTORS® to attain green certi- fication. (For more information on EcoBroker®, please see the story “Seeking Green” on page 28 in this issue.) “We’re certified green-building specialists—we want our agents to be greenest of the green. We’re in classes learning from architects and builders,” he said. “We’re also very in- terested in teaching buyers how to green their homes. We look at green as being equivalent to high-end property.” “REALTORS® have great influence on the spending patterns of their clients. The greening of houses has only been going on a few years. To introduce best practices to our buyers, we need more data,” said Bartle, whose firm gives buyers a certificate for a home energy efficiency and air quality analysis worth $250. That’s not a hard sell—you make a Bartle, whose mission is to make San Francisco the most sustainable city in the world, will soon open branches $10,000 investment now and make of Green Key Real Estate in other parts of Northern it back in five or 10 years. California as well as Seattle, Portland, Ore. and Boulder, Colo. The ultimate goal is to sell Green Key franchises “We’re a mission-driven company. Of course we’re about to like-minded brokers across the United States. selling houses and making money, but we’re also about Janet Rosenberg, a REALTOR® with Intero Real Estate increasing the inventory of green homes,” he said. Services in Santa Cruz, Ca., lists her EcoBroker® certi- Bartle’s firm works with Build It Green, a California fication when signing her e-mails—before the essential nonprofit, to promote green building and green remod- office, mobile and fax numbers. eling. He also notes that the California Association of “REALTORS® are in the perfect position to educate REALTORS® has a Green Task Force to raise member people, and entire communities for that matter, on how awareness on environmental issues, green the associa- to make homes more energy efficient,” she said. “The tion’s business practices, and create alliances with other reason for this is that in our profession we are talking to organizations on green issues. homebuyers and home sellers every day, and we’re also “In an old home, if the client is concerned about energy touring homes regularly. With our background as Certi- efficiency, the solution includes double-paned windows fied EcoBrokers®, Intero Real Estate can offer not only and energy-efficient appliances. That’s not a hard sell— suggestions on ways to improve a home’s efficiency, but you make a $10,000 investment now and make it back ways to reduce utility bills.” in five or 10 years,” Bartle explained. Rosenberg integrated her EcoBroker® training into her two Bartle said sustainable housing goes far beyond a capital offices by forming a green business network called Green investment in energy efficiency. Performance Network (GPN). The network includes ap- “People are thinking about indoor air quality, people are praisers, builders, inspectors, landscapers, material suppliers, thinking of their families,” he said. “A lot of building lenders and other professionals who have gone green. materials, finish materials, paints, varnish, sealers and “I found that I wanted to refer my clients to local busi- cabinetry with particle board held together with formal- nesses that offered green products and services, and I dehyde—have toxic elements. That’s not just a horrible needed to know who those folks were,” she said. She paint smell, it’s a chemical that isn’t good for you. We offers GPN members a free half-page ad in the GPN di- 26 ON COMMON GROUND
  27. 27. REALTORS® are in the perfect position to educate people on how to make homes more energy efficient. one of each locally to add to my team of home inspectors, mortgage lenders, contractors and others to serve clients.” rectory, which is distributed to clients and in businesses To delve more deeply into holistic sustainability, Ju- throughout Santa Cruz. monville suggests REALTORS® pick up a copy of “This makes my company very visible in the ‘green’ architect Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language. front, and it builds a referral network back to us.” The groundbreaking 1977 book, in its own words, deals with “the large-scale structure of the environment: the Every six weeks, Rosenberg hosts public events that in- growth of town and country, the layout of roads and vite community members to introduce themselves and paths, the relationship between work and family, the tell about their product or service. Everyone passes out formation of suitable public institutions for a neigh- business cards. borhood, the kinds of public space required to support “Obviously, I hope that when people are making a deci- these institutions.” sion about Real Estate, they will come to Intero Real Jumonville, whose e-mail includes a picture of herself Estate Services for help,” she said. “Additionally, we with her horse, notes that sustainability reaches beyond teach Intero Community Classes in my office—taught the urban core and suburbs. by EcoBrokers® and open to the public. The classes cover topics such as ‘Sustainable Building Showcase’ “I’m working not only on urban issues but rural issues— and ‘Green Living Seminar.’” how to make your horse property more environmentally sustainable. For example, it’s just as important to site the For REALTOR® Tricia Jumonville, a self described “old barn correctly on the property as it is the house. Rain- hippie,” sustainability has been woven into her life as far water harvesting for livestock watering is a no-brainer back as she can remember. and using soil biology versus fertilizer/weedkiller is more “An astute REALTOR® can always help a buyer or seller sustainable long term,” she said. “I’m constantly looking find affordable ways to add to the sustainability factor for rebates and other benefits that the utility companies of more traditional construction,” said Jumonville, who and city, state and federal government offer for clients works for ERA Colonial Real Estate in rural Texas about interested in upgrading their new or existing home to a long hour’s drive out of progressive Austin. “You can’t more sustainable standards.” ● change the way an existing building is placed on the lot, for example, but you can add rainwater harvesting ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: systems, solar attributes, screening that helps with the energy demands for cooling, landscaping to decrease energy usage and quite a few other affordable after- market tweaks that will increase sustainability of even traditional construction.” “Clearly, energy auditors are going to be an important partner in the real estate professional’s life in the future. Wright frequently writes about smart growth and As will lenders familiar with the energy-efficient loans that sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a re- are available and make sustainability more affordable for stored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Ha- the average person,” she added. “I’m currently looking for vana. Contact him at: SUMMER 2008 27
  28. 28. SEEKING GREEN REALTOR® Associations provide a helping hand to achieve sustainability. By Steve Wright N Rainwater harvesting ot that long ago, if a buyer asked a is one of the many REALTOR® to search for a green environmental house, it could have meant only practices members two things—the shade of paint, or a of Seattle’s TREC promote. glassed in structure perfect for grow- ing flowers and vegetables. Now green means environmentally-friendly, energy-ef- ficient, healthy and sustainable. And, as more and more buyers are seeking homes with everything from better air quality and insulation to solar power and rain catch basins, REALTORS® are recognizing Consumer demand for sustainability the need to be knowledgeable about going “green,” as a way has also prompted companies to to grow both their client base and sales commissions. To separate the junk science from best practices, a num- create coursework and certification ber of large regional REALTOR® Associations are creat- programs for REALTORS®. ing green councils, trainings, conferences, certification procedures and partnerships. Consumer demand for sustainability has also prompted companies to create coursework and certification pro- grams for REALTORS®. “We have developed a brochure, Green Living: A Resource Guide for Residents of King County,” said Russell Hokanson, CEO of the Seattle King County Association of REALTORS® (SKCAR). The brochure is available on SKCAR’s Web site, and members are en- couraged to provide a copy to new homeowners. “The brochure provides valuable information and resources relating to energy efficiency inside and outside of homes, improving vehicle fuel economy, recycling, calculating carbon footprints and other valuable green tips.” Members of Seattle’s TREC take a day to plant trees in the SKCAR partners with a local instructor to offer a class- Hylebos Wetlands. room course—Green Cities & Housing. It also is col- laborating with the Independent Brokers Association to offer a new course—Selling Green Homes. 28 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2008
  29. 29. EcoBroker® Inter- national team in Evergreen, Colo. Front row left to right: Kyndal Lee, Vicki Rosa, Linda Besler, Jennifer Shank, Kim Young. Back row left to right: John Beldock, Ryan Moehring, Mark Gashler, John Stovall “Our association lobbies state and local officials for jobs- “The project at the Hylebos (a watershed conserva- housing balance. Recognizing that one-half of all green- tion area) was the first such project to be undertaken house gas (GHG) comes from transportation, one of the by TREC…[Hylebos] is one of the outstanding envi- best approaches to address climate change is to lobby for ronmental assets in the entire Pacific Northwest and jobs-housing balance. This concept advocates for hous- the Friends of the Hylebos, with whom we partnered ing opportunities near employment centers.” Hokanson on this project, have a superb reputation for their en- said of the necessity to combine smart growth with vironmental remediation and enhancement efforts. green housing: “Jobs-housing balance helps prevent The REALTORS® would not be content to only sprawl, provides housing opportunities for workers near talk about the environment and raise funds for en- their jobs and greatly reduces the vehicle miles traveled vironmental projects, as some environmental efforts and GHG.” have done…As part of our local board’s centennial SKCAR conceived and created The REALTORS® En- celebration, this fall TREC will work on the ground vironmental Council (TREC), an organization pending or provide environmental stewardship to improve a nonprofit status that Hokanson believes is the first of its significant greenbelt or park within King County.” kind in the nation. In his words, TREC was created to: (3) Enhance REALTOR® understanding of environ- (1) Improve the congruence between public perceptions mental issues, particularly as they relate to regula- and the fact that the REALTORS® are sensitive to, tion, conservation, enhancement and remediation and supportive of, well-grounded and responsible that affect the sustainability, utilization and develop- environmental stewardship. ment of real property. “Many folks don’t know that the REALTORS® are “This is being accomplished through state-approved a founding member of the Washington Wildlife and clock-hour classes REALTORS® must complete in Recreation Coalition and for many, many years have order to renew their real estate licenses.” annually contributed thousands of dollars to the (4) Develop and provide to REALTORS® brandable Coalition’s efforts to secure environmental and rec- point-of-sale brochures that members can download reation project funding for jurisdictions throughout and use with clients and customers. Washington State. “For instance, ‘How To Be An Earth-Friendly Ho- The TREC is a natural fit with our strong support meowner,’ [which can] be downloaded from the for schools, infrastructure and housing, which—like SKCAR Web site at a quality environment—are all prerequisites for associations/1563/files/TREC.cfm.” quality of life.” (5) Undertake the advancement of important environmen- (2) Accomplish projects that provide on-the-ground tal policies, and/or environmental projects, that other benefits for the environment. environmental organizations have failed to undertake. 29
  30. 30. Members of TREC learn ways to preserve and restore the North Fork open space of the Hylebos Wetlands. We wanted to help our members understand that this is where the market is going. Hokanson also strongly believes that association • High-efficiency 90 AFUE furnaces. boards should work to add green information to • Energy Star appliances. their area Multiple Listing Service. Agents can high- light green features for homes that meet third-party • Source of electrical power, including specific utility certifications for Built Green®, Energy Star® and service and solar features. LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental • Additional home modifications, including sustainable Design) standards. materials, water filters, rain collectors and solar tubes. There are checkboxes for identifying energy-efficient When the RMLS rolled out green features for its list- heating and cooling systems including solar and for ings in Oregon and Southwest Washington, it empha- renewable floor coverings such as bamboo or cork. sized the industry-wide benefits: In a listing’s details about the house lot, a REAL- • Homebuyers, 78 percent of whom say they would TOR® can note sustainable features such as drought- choose one home over another based on its energy resistant landscaping. efficiency, will be able to search for homes with lower Recently, The Northwest Multiple Listing Service, energy costs and environmental impact. Four out of the largest full-service MLS in the Pacific Northwest, five of the same homebuyers recognize the value of the added information on sustainability to its database. Energy Star label and 67 percent of them recognize the In Portland, Ore., the Regional Multiple Listing Earth Advantage brand. Service (RMLS) introduced green listings to much • Home builders, nine of 10 saying they incorporate fanfare in 2007. energy-saving products or features into new homes, “Green and energy-efficient features have emerged will be able to differentiate themselves from the com- as some of the most important and sought-after by petition at a time when the market is cooling. Accord- buyers in our RMLS service area,” said RMLS CEO ing to a recent survey by the National Association of Beth Murphy. “With the help of their REALTORS®, Home Builders (NAHB), 64 percent of home builders homebuyers now will be able to pinpoint homes will either be heavily or moderately involved nation- with those features.” ally in green building projects. The RMLS forms include details such as: • Home sellers, who have invested money into energy- • Home performance and green home certifications saving and sustainability features, can better promote such as Energy Star®, Earth Advantage®, LEED for their home’s higher resale value. Homes and others. 30 ON COMMON GROUND
  31. 31. • Real estate agents have new ways to better meet their • Energy efficiency technologies, sustainable energy op- clients’ needs whether representing the buyer or seller. tions and mortgage options that award up to $15,000 Seventy-five percent of those consumers that have used worth of energy efficiency improvements for a home at a REALTOR® in the past confirmed that they would the closing. Green home certification programs, such turn to a “green” REALTOR® if there was a mecha- as Built Green® and Energy Star® Qualified Homes. nism for searching and tracking homes built to energy • Energy and environmental training that can add value efficient and green building measures. to transactions with consumers both green-minded • Appraisers will grow in their ability to incorporate and not green-aware. Identifying new markets where energy efficient and green home features into a home’s the EcoBroker® Designation will have appeal and im- appraised value. pact, generating more business. SKCAR is also an advocate of the EcoBroker® cer- EcoBroker® Vice President John K. Stovall was a fea- tification program, developed by Dr. John Beldock, tured presenter at the Vermont Association of REAL- former director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s TORS® (VAR) 2007 statewide convention, which Environmental Analysis Program. focused on going green. Beldock, currently president and CEO of EcoBro- Robert D. Hill, executive vice president of the VAR, ker®, calls it “the first and only international provider said that, “when the Legislature spent the entire session of green designation training that provides a unique last year on global warming and attempted to institute energy and environmental curriculum to licensed real mandatory energy efficiency standards on all housing, it estate professionals, leading to the EcoBroker® desig- was a natural opportunity to make sure our members are nation.” conversant with the concepts and adequately prepared There are certified EcoBrokers® in 42 states, four Ca- to respond to customers who are looking for green real nadian Provinces and the Caribbean. Based in Ever- estate. We wanted to help our members understand that green, Colo., outside Denver, EcoBroker®’s accredited this is where the market is going and not just a ‘nerdy coursework consists of three six-hour on-line classes. idea,’ so they should be professionally primed to provide Topics include: assistance when their clients ask.” • Constructively addressing environmental issues such VAR has also worked with Smart Growth Vermont on as radon, asbestos, lead, water, mold and indoor air a project to demonstrate that well-planned communi- quality. Reducing liabilities and saving deals by learn- ties can fit the Vermont landscape. However, Hill said, ing to work through environmental issues. acceptance of the concept is moving slowly due to strin- REALTORS® can also be instrumental in showing clients how green improvements can increase the value of their investment. SUMMER 2008 31