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- Earning NAR's Green Designation
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- Green Resources
The owner of the first Chevrolet Volt is Jeff Kaffee, a real estate practitioner. Kaffee, a member of the Kaffee Team at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Parsippany, N.J., got his car, a plug-in hybrid, in December 2010. Just this month, the Volt was named the North American Car of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show.
Kaffee first spotted the Volt at the 2010
New York Auto Show last summer, liked what he saw, and put in an
order. "It had nice styling and it did everything I wanted it to do,"
He traded in a Prius that he
bought about six years ago. When he bought the Prius, he'd viewed it as a
car that represented a dramatic change. He now feels the same way about
the Volt and calls it a dynamic, leading-edge car.
who is planning to attain NAR’s Green Designation, is pleased about the
car for other reasons. For one, he vividly recalls the gas lines of the
1970s; he's concerned about the dependence on oil, and also recalls the
profound and stifling pollution he witnessed during a recent trip to
China. "I wouldn't be buying a Prius or a Volt if I weren't concerned
about pollution," he says. "It's my way of doing my little part for the
environment. When you see a million of these on the road, that's when
they'll make a real impact."
And that day
is coming, according to David J. Leeds, Senior Manager of Smart Grid
Research for Greentech Media, New York, who says we're transitioning
from an oil-based to an electric-based civilization. "It's exciting that
we're here," he says. It took about nine years for the Prius to reach
its third generation incarnation, and that's the point where it reached
the mass market and consumers fully embraced the car, he points out. By
2020, he expects the same thing to happen with electric cars (EVs). "We
have about six to eight years for trials to get this right," Leeds adds.
a retired pilot, already finds a lot right about this first generation.
"It's a very complicated car, but not for the driver. If you can plug
in a hair dryer, you can plug in this car and drive it." Moreover, he
says he can charge the car for about $1.50 and go 40 miles.
And though many consider cars like the Volt, and other similar cars, such as the Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf, luxury items, their prices likely will come down. "People who recognize the value don't mind paying for these technologies," says Leeds. "If no one bought the first generation Mac, we wouldn't have what we have now. The same will be true of EVs in the long run," says Leeds.
For those considering EVs, Leeds raises several points, including:
• Lifestyle fit--Is an EV a good fit with your daily routine? Maybe if you're driving across country, an EV doesn't make sense. But if you have predictable driving habits and a place to recharge such cars, they could work. "Soon we'll have charging stations, and those will be coming quickly," Leeds predicts.
• At-home charging--The first requirement is a basic 120-volt wall outlet, though the capability of 240 volts can speed up battery charging significantly. Kaffee says right now he's charging the batter overnight with his regular 120-volt garage outlet, but will be upgrading to a 240 outlet so he can get fully charged in about four hours.
• Test-drive--Rental companies, such as Hertz, are adding EVs to its fleet, so you could rent a car for several days or a week to see if such cars are a good fit.
• Research-- The U.S. Department of Energy offers a primer on EVs, there's a wealth of information online, and Kaffee said articles in car magazines helped him to make an informed decision.
There also are some somewhat selfish reasons to be interested in such cars. For one, they're made at home and they have the potential to generate jobs. "Remember, if there are no jobs, people also won't be buying houses," Kaffee comments. After driving an array of foreign cars over the years, he notes, "It's a nice thing to come back to a GM product."
Then there's the issue in the real estate industry about the image a car projects. Kaffee recalls driving a beat-up old station wagon to a listing presentation 20-plus years ago. The prospects confessed that though they were impressed with Kaffee's credentials, they asked, "How good can he be if he's driving that?"
He didn't get the listing. The next day, Kaffee leased a Lincoln Continental.
Kaffee is far less concerned with such things these days. Though
clients and colleagues think the car is neat and it grabs attention,
Kaffee doesn't expect new business as a result. "I'm still depending on
my 25-year reputation in the business. I don't think I'll be picked by
clients because of the Volt," he jokes.
Whether you achieved NAR's Green Designation
because you're passionate about sustainability or you're preparing
yourself for the industry's imminent conversion to high-performance
properties, it's important as ever to remember and share the numerous
reasons sustainability is taking hold.
As spokespeople for green, you've likely encountered those who oppose anything associated with the word 'green,' and who routinely shift the focus of any green discussion to climate change.
Here are some ideas to keep in mind when talking with skeptics or to those hostile to sustainability.
There's nothing more American than being energy independent, seeking healthier indoor and outdoor environments, and creating innovations that result in greater efficiency. Such are the fundamental principles of sustainability, and I believe most Americans, whether they're politically right or left, would value them.
Yet when such commonsense ideas are labeled as green or sustainable, they're often opposed and politicized, and characterized as leftist agenda items. But how does making the country more efficient or choosing smarter options not make sense?
After all, we live in a time of rapid growth in human population on a planet with finite resources. It's more than just oil that could run dry. Many other natural resources we rely on also are threatened. How can anyone argue that slimmer resources spread among a larger population isn't problematic? Such is why the mantra reduce, reuse, and recycle is so important.
And REALTORS® who oppose sustainability often say, “Why should I worry about this now? It's not really affecting me.”
But it is.
As a Green Designee, you can explain the reality to colleagues and point out that making green business and lifestyle choices is a way to be proactive, not reactive. And such choices have a bearing not only on the health of their families and on the planet, but also on their real estate businesses.
After all, more consumers are understanding and demanding green products and buildings. And business-minded capitalists and corporations already are investing in clean technology and green properties, whether they receive subsidies for those choices or not.
Moreover, more local and state governments are enacting green policies and building codes to encourage or even mandate green building. Once the economy turns around, the design/build community will fully embrace certified green properties and sustainable building.
Terry Watson, an instructor for NAR's Green Designation, frequently discusses a compelling Arthur Schopenhauer quote with his students.
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident," said Schopenhauer.
The momentum has begun. Today, green may be ridiculed in some circles. Tomorrow, it will, I believe, be the norm.
When he was a high school science teacher, Bill Costley, an avid outdoorsman who kayaks, canoes, and bikes, tried to instill his students with a love of nature. His hope was that a respect for the environment would, at the very least, make them think twice before tossing a Burger King wrapper from a car window.
Part of that education entailed taking them out of the classroom and offering students a romp in nature, along with canoeing, and hands-on education during trips to South Manitou Island and Isle Royale.
applies some of those same teaching techniques with NAR's Green
Designation when he teaches for the Traverse Area Association of
REALTORS® (TAAR). Costley serves as the outreach and education director
at TAAR, one of the winners of the GRC 2010 EverGreen Award.
Rather than situating NAR's Green Designation classes in character-less, bare-bones spaces and clicking through PowerPoint presentations, Costley often holds such events at local LEED-rated facilities. The sites, themselves, then become classrooms.
At one venue, a motel set on major thoroughfare, Costley points out to students that they hear not a bit of street noise. Why? The walls are about 11-inches thick.
Another spot is the Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, a Thompsonville, Mich., LEED-rated resort. It's rich with sustainability examples, including a rainwater collector, native plant species, low-VOC products, ground water heat pumps, and energy-efficient lighting.
also invites guest experts to demonstrate how a blower door test and
infrared cameras can detect leaks. "Just talking about energy efficiency
and not being able to show it to students doesn't mean much," he
comments. And at the green classroom sites, he often asks the
architect, builder, and owner to talk about the buildings' design and
function. "If students see, hear, and touch these things, they mean a
lot more to them," he adds.
Costley's personal experiences factor into classes too. He shares details about the retirement house he built nine years ago. Even at a time when green products weren't well understood, he was able to incorporate numerous green strategies, including energy efficient windows with low-e glass, a house properly oriented to catch sunlight, blown-in cellulose insulation, and a high-efficiency furnace.
Costley says it's critical for real estate practitioners to understand green building. He believes that in coming years, houses simply must operate more efficiently, and that rising energy prices will increase interest in such buildings.
And it's more than just real estate practitioners who need the education. He recruits professionals in other building-related businesses to take TAAR's green classes. He believes everyone, from appraisers and lenders to painters and septic tank inspectors, need to understand this new way of building. After all, they're all part of the real estate transaction, and he argues that if appraisers understand green features, they'll properly value them. Similarly, if bankers understand, they'll be more inclined to offer green mortgages.
An emphasis on green extends to other TAAR classes too. REBAC's Generation Buy course, for instance, addresses ways to market to various generations. Costley points out that Gen Y buyers simply aren't willing to embrace old-school practices, like driving around for hours with practitioners to shop for houses. It's also terribly inefficient. The Generation Buy class addresses alternatives and technologies that help prospects to preview property in some detail and narrow down choices, instead of driving to houses only to nix them.
TAAR also teaches by example. It was on the forefront of greening its MLS, all staffers have taken NAR's Green Designation Courses, and the office serves as a model of efficiency in how it recycles and cuts waste. It also co-sponsors a green festival and maintains a Website aimed at educating consumers.
says he keeps the quote, "We don't own the land. We only borrow it from
our children," visible in classes. "That's something all REALTORS® can
promote by taking NAR's Green Designation Courses. I can't think of
anything I'd rather do than teach young people about ways to take care
of our planet in sustainable ways. They are the future custodians of
what we leave behind."
Though she's sold 50 LEED-H homes in her market, Sydona Anderson GREEN
says she still feels like a lone candle in a dark room when it comes to
getting people to embrace the green housing message. Sue Bechtel GREEN, EcoBroker® of Iowa Realty also feels like she's fighting an uphill battle in her Des Moines market.
They're likely not alone. Many practitioners talk of the long slow slog toward the time when green reaches what they call a critical mass.
Here's what some are doing to speed up that trip, along with some things you can implement in your business.
Rebates and Incentives: Get up to speed on every national, state and local rebate available for energy-efficiency upgrades. Anderson GREEN qualifying broker of Tierra del Sol Real Estate Properties in Farmington, N.M., promotes solar energy to clients not only because, as she says, "the sun is free," but also because there are some enticing incentives offered by the state. "I show clients the energy costs they'll save and use that information as a motivator," she says.
24/7 green: Anderson takes her green message everywhere she goes, whether it's at business meetings, listing presentations, or social events. She confesses that she's even been known to talk to caterers at luncheons and other social events she attends to offer information about and pointers on how they can green their business practices and do on-site recycling.
Creative outreach: Attending green-related events and festivals are great for networking and meeting like-minded people. It's something Bob McCranieCRS, GRI, GREEN from Texas Pride Realty, Carrollton, Texas does regularly. But he thinks it's also important to find ways to reach those who think they aren't interested in sustainability and aren't knowledgeable about it. He rented a booth at the Dallas Auto show this year to touch a broader swath of the population with his green message and education. His isn't a hard-sell method. The vast majority of his encounters at events where he has a booth entail schmoozing with and educating people.
Adapt your message: The truth is that not everyone is convinced that climate change is taking place, nor do they care about saving the planet. For many, the main motivation for doing energy efficiency upgrades or making green choices has to do with cold, hard cash. So read your clients, figure out their motivation, and deliver messages that resonate with them. Bechtel calls it reaching people's "sweet spot." With green skeptics on a tight budget, she may focus on the wisdom of tapping free resources, such as solar power and capturing rainwater, for example. And for those concerned about dependence on foreign oil, she may mention the wisdom associated with using home-grown resources.
Live green, share green:
There's nothing like incorporating green lifestyle strategies, say many
practitioners, to boost their credibility. They implement green changes
in their personal lives to show that it can be done and then share the
details of their successes. McCranie, for instance, slashed his home
electricity usage by 41 percent. He blogs about it at
www.DallasGreenStreets.com. Nicole Brulé-Fisher GREEN, EcoBroker®
chair of the Green Task Force for Tucson Association of REALTORS®,
installed photovoltaics on her roof at home and realized a cost savings
of about $700 during the first year she had it. And Bechtel, who drives a
Prius, composts and captures rainwater, leaves her rainwater collector
in the front yard for all to see. That way, she says, she teaches by
What are your best strategies? Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A partnership between the National Association of REALTORS® and the Council of Educational Facilities Planners International (CEFPI) brings an exciting opportunity for real estate practitioners to make an impact in their communities.
The School of the Future Design Competition teams up middle school students, who envision and design sustainable schools in their towns. NAR and CEFPI sponsor the competition, and competitions take place in communities around the country. NAR's Holly Moskerintz and Wendy Furth GREEN, EcoBroker®, ABR®, CIPS, CRS, GRI, LTG, PMN, SRES, ePRO, QSC, TRS, CNHS of RE/MAX Olson & Associates, Northridge, Calif., outlined the program during the GRC's January 2011 Webinar.
the program, real estate practitioners have an opportunity to pass on
their green knowledge to the next generation, improve students' lives,
and build new business and personal relationships.
students, the competition is a chance to expand existing skills and
learn new ones. Among them are math, writing, planning and presentation,
teamwork and technology.
Students learn about green principles, such as solar and wind energy, water conservation, healthy buildings, and energy efficiency and apply such concepts in their designs.
They develop plans, elevations and drawings, and build models of their proposed school out of recycled materials. In addition, they write a project description, create a PowerPoint presentation, and then present the whole package to jurors.
Competitions take place at the local, chapter, state, and regional levels, and six regional winning teams are selected to participate in the final juried competition during School Building Week in Washington, DC.
The first-place regional winning teams receive travel and accommodations to participate in the final jury process. Those students spend time touring the city, visiting Capitol Hill, and meeting their respective members of Congress. In addition, NAR hosts a reception and an awards ceremony for them.
Furth says it costs real estate practitioners no money to participate, and the time commitment is short. The entire process takes place between September to April.
Practitioners' roles can vary. Some serve as mentors and visit school weekly to work with students, and some fundraise to help kids pay for travel to state and regional jury events. Others serve as jurors and some form mentor teams of experts to guide and advise teams.
Mentor teams can include utility company representatives, local USGBC chapter reps, developers, architects, engineers, contractors, electricians, and LEED specialists.
Furth says the entire experience is tremendously satisfying and inspiring and students' creativity sometimes astounds. One team built a model with pizza boxes, for example. One team incorporated live guppies that swam around in a model. Another group used paper embedded with flower seeds for jury forms, and at the end of the competition, the paper could be planted in the ground.
The program has the power to improve lives too. Some kids have really blossomed and transformed from couch potatoes into engaged, enthusiastic students. Others envision careers as architects or engineers because of their experiences.
Furth, who has served as a national juror, says some presentations were so moving that they brought on tears and goose bumps. "If they didn't, you must have been dead in your seat," she jokes.
also points out that participation in the program is a great soft
marketing strategy for real estate businesses. For one, high
performance schools serve as economic engines and they're a critical
element in selling houses in a community.
Participation also generates good local publicity and gets your name out in the community. And she says, it puts you in touch with a host of new people--teachers, janitors, school nurses and all the experts and professionals involved in the program--who may have real estate needs. "It's really a great business decision," she says.
View the GRC Webinar online, or learn more about the program online. If you'd like to get involved, visit CEFPI's website to register as a volunteer.
• Shade: Park in the shade when
possible, and cool down your hot car by driving with the windows down
before turning on the air-conditioner. Over time these practices can
result in a much smaller workload for your AC—and significant energy
• Tune-ups: Change your oil, check the fluids, replace spark plugs, and perform other regular maintenance tasks to save fuel. Rotate your tires and keep them properly inflated. For every three pounds they fall below their recommended pressure your fuel economy will fall by one percent. When it’s time to replace tires consider using low-rolling-resistance (LRR) alternatives, which can boost your mpg.
• Smooth ride: Slow down. Driving 75 mph instead of 65 mph burns 10 percent more fuel. A smooth ride also helps, so use cruise control when it’s practical. Stop-and-go driving and jackrabbit acceleration really take a toll—just one second of “pedal to the metal” acceleration emits almost as much carbon monoxide as half an hour of normal driving. And when you’re not driving your car, turn it off—don’t let it idle.
Source: The Green Guide
All articles written by Elyse Umlauf-Garneau