Q: Marsha, my Realtor just received her EcoBroker® designation and is excited about showing us “green houses” to purchase. I’m not sure what an EcoBroker® is or even what a green house is. Can you explain these designations?
A: That is an enormous subject, but I will be glad to give you an overview. The Green Movement in real estate has developed from the environmental and green energy conservation movements. Many people attribute the beginning of America’s environmental awareness to the 1962 publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. This book jolted our country’s consciousness, and we began to reevaluate the “use once and toss” mentality of the 1950s.
More and more houses today are constructed with green values in mind. This is consumer driven. In 2015, the United States Green Building Council said that 40 to 48 percent of new residences were built green. Many of the green houses are upper-end and in the luxury category, but cities, counties, and states are changing building codes to incorporate energy-conservation standards. With these codes and consumer demand, all new houses will be built in many different shades of green.
An example of the government encouraging change is the California plumbing fixture law that went into effect in January 2017. This law applies to faucets, toilets, and showerheads. All houses built prior to January 1, 1994, must be equipped with water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Sellers don’t need to install new fixtures at the time of sale. They just need to disclose if fixtures haven’t been upgraded. The effect will be that more and more older homes will have new water-conserving fixtures installed.
There are many organizations that provide green real-estate certifications. The one most consumers recognize is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). This is an internationally recognized program that provides guidelines and a point system on the design of houses, buildings, and neighborhoods. Besides LEED, there are other certifications with themes such as water efficiency, sustainable sites, energy conservation, emissions, sustainable building materials and resources, indoor environment, efficient landscaping, and project management.
The EcoBroker® designation was developed in 2002 by John Beldock, PhD. His organization, the Association of Energy and Environmental Real Estate Professionals, developed a comprehensive and detailed course for builders and all real estate professionals. In 2009, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) introduced its Green Course. This certification is only for members of NAR, who are known as Realtors.
Your Realtor has a reason to be proud of her EcoBroker® certificate. She learned a tremendous amount about green houses and building techniques. Owning a green home is good for the environment, of course, but it’s also good for your wallet; a more efficient home will save you money over time. Being aware of our ecology and environment is not just for tree huggers; it’s a benefit to all of us. Enjoy Earth Day, Santa Barbara!
Marsha Gray, DRE #012102130, NMLS#1982164, has been a real estate broker in Santa Barbara for more than 20 years. She works at Allyn & Associates, real estate services and lending. To read more Q&A articles, visit MarshaGraySBhomes.com. She will research and answer all questions submitted. Contact Marsha at (805) 252-7093 or MarshaGraySB@gmail.com.