Green Industry Articles

Greening Your RE Business: Green Your Ride

Just last month, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Safety Administration proposed a national program that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy for new cars and trucks sold in the United States.

But if you're like most GRC members, you're already logging numerous hours in the car driving to open houses, showings and listing presentations and need more immediate solutions.

Short of buying a new ultra-efficient car, there are easy-to-implement steps you can take to save dollars and lower the impact your driving has on the environment.

Your iPhone, for instance, can be an ally in everything from saving gas to skirting traffic. A handful of interesting apps include:

Fuel economy: Several apps let you plug in your odometer reading and fuel amounts and costs to calculate fuel economy. Others offer tips for boosting efficiency. Check out GasHog and AccuFuel.

Efficiency: greenMeter promises to compute your vehicle's power and fuel usage characteristics and evaluate your driving to increase efficiency, reduce fuel consumption and cost, and lower your environmental impact. Results are displayed in real time, giving drivers immediate feedback. Another, Bliss Trek™, takes a game-like approach and calculates things like your stops and starts and speed steadiness, and awards points for eco-driving. You lose points for driving fast or idling. It will identify your bad habits so you can work to correct them. Want to boast about your Bliss Trek™ score on Twitter?

The application lets you Tweet the good news.

Cheap fuel: GasBag helps you locate the gas station offering the nearest, cheapest gas.

Traffic conditions: Traffic retrieves current traffic conditions and delays associated with traffic incidents so you can opt for an alternate route. There are versions for Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Location, location: Need a gas station? Restaurant? Hotel? AroundMe lets you find where things are in relation to where you're standing. Have a hankering for Indian food? Type in Indian restaurants and the app locates nearby tandoori ovens and maps a route from where you're standing. Another techie option worth checking out is ecoRoute™, which works with the Garmin's GPS system, nüvi®. One nifty feature is its ability to calculate the most fuel-efficient routes by factoring in fuel consumption, number of stops, speed limits, and so forth.

Back to basics

Basic low-tech strategies also can go far in saving fuel. According to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, developing smarter driving and maintenance habits can add up to about $800 a year in fuel savings for the average U.S. driver.

Here are some decidedly basic tips to lessen your impact:

Lighten up: Empty the trunk of non-essentials. Extra weight strains the car and decreases fuel efficiency. According to www.fueleconomy.gov, an extra 100 pounds in the car can reduce your miles per gallon by up to 2 percent. Similarly, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent.

Don't drive like an urban cabbie: Sudden acceleration and quick braking is wasteful and can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent in town.

Stick to the speed limit: Though it varies by vehicle and situation, a rule of thumb is that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.

Practice good maintenance: Keep tires inflated to the right pressure, keep the engine tuned and use the right oil.

Change habits: Consider planning a day or two a week where you use public transit or bike or walk to the office. Or work from home and stay out of the car completely.

Pedaling real estate: Biking with clients to listings has gotten some attention in several cities, including Seattle, Chicago and Boulder. One company, Boulder, Colorado-based Pedal To Properties, even gives clients the option of touring neighborhoods by bike. The concept gives new meaning to the notion of peddling real estate.

Source: Green REsource Council Newsletter, October 2009