Green Industry Articles

Growing Your Green Real Estate Business

Troy Hodas considers his activities in the green movement a work in progress. "The more I learn, I realize that there's so much more for me to learn," comments Hodas of Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty, Goshen, N.Y, recent recipient of the Green Distinguished Service Award.

And that's from someone with great expertise in sustainability. Hodas is a participating builder in the New York Energy Star® Homes Program, he's a BPI-certified Energy Auditor, a HERS Rater and has NAR's Green Designation and is an EcoBroker.

In addition, he's completed two green transactions and continues to plug away at promoting his green skills, getting more education and raising his profile as a green expert. All such efforts likely will make him uniquely well-positioned to capitalize on the turnaround when real estate industry emerges from the recession.

Here are seven ways you can raise your green profile.

1. Get involved in or start green real estate groups, including green task forces at state and local boards and at your office.

2. Continue your education. For instance, keep taking GRC courses, attend webinars and stay abreast of changes with the major green building programs, such as those offered by Energy Star®, the U.S. Green Building Council and the National Association of Homebuilders.

3. Create online groups for networking and information exchanges. Hodas, for example, recently established a LinkedIn group, Hudson Valley Eco Alliance, to generate connections among local green professionals. It's also a forum to exchange ideas and get questions answered, advance green home development and foster a shift in mindset toward more sustainable living.

4. Become the green guru in your office or company and propose green initiatives. Hodas' company just wrapped up a competition among its offices to see which one could cut electric consumption the most. Hodas would like to see the strategies become standard operating procedure across the company. In addition, he hopes the higher awareness will spur greater interest in the green movement, a concerted effort to reduce the company's carbon footprint and serve as a motivation for other practitioners to get green education and attain designations.

5. Barter for services. Advertising in magazines is pricey. Hodas cut a deal with a magazine in which he offered a home audit to the publisher. In exchange, he received advertising space, which has generated two business leads.

6. Network with like-minded professionals. Establishing or participating in local green groups puts you in touch with others involved in the green movement in your community and could be a source of further education and referral business. Starting points include local organic food groups, established networking groups (see Green Drinks at www.greendrinks.org) and online
meet-up sites. For instance, typing in "green building" and a Chicago zip code yielded 134 existing groups at www.meetup.com.

7. Build credibility. Test-drive the green techniques you're promoting so you can tap personal experience and speak intelligently about green topics you're addressing with clients. Andrea Galloup a Traverse City, Michigan practitioner with Real Estate One, for example, subjected her home to an energy audit. The results were eye-opening for her (for more about Galloup, see
"Energy Shock" in the September 2009 issue) and she implemented some energy-saving strategies recommended by the auditor. But the experience also provided her with greater knowledge about construction and energy efficiency to share with clients. And Hodas wanted to see how much energy he could save by implementing electricity-reduction strategies. Starting in mid-2008, he did all the basics, such as turning off the computer when it wasn't in use, opting for task lighting with a CFL bulb instead of burning overhead lights and drying clothes on a line rather than using the dryer. He tracked his energy consumption and went from chewing up 320 kilowatt hours per month to under 200 per month.

Regardless of your location, there's tremendous opportunity to promote your green expertise. If you practice in places like Seattle or Portland where the sustainability movement has a strong foothold, you likely have a vast array of existing networking opportunities and ways to locate like-minded people. In spots where a green awareness is just emerging, you can be the one to
advance the movement and establish yourself as the go-to person in your city.

Source: Green REsource Council Newsletter, November 2009