RealPodVA: Climate Change and Real Estate

Part Two, the Podcast. Part One is the blog post with links and background.

The RealPodVA podcast is fun, with Dave Stipe of Rockfish Music and Bart Isely of Scrimmage Play. My one ask: give us a listen, and if you like it, listen again, maybe subscribe, and even tell a friend!


tl;dr: climate change is real. Time to change habits – how we eat, build houses, transport ourselves and things, and where and how we live.

1. I’m not qualified to be an alarmist, but I can read.

2. With respect to climate change, your beliefs do not matter


Jim: Speaking of global warming –

Dave: What they call a segway in the business.

Jim: They have ice. They have ice.

Bart: Jim, what are we talking about today?

Jim: I think we’ll talk about climate change. Real estate. How we might be effected, or will be effected, in the next 10-20 years, give or take, and, how we might be able to easily address some of this stuff, and I have no idea how we can not so easily address it. At least a good start would be acknowledging and admitting to the fact that climate change is a real thing that we gotta deal with.

Jim: [00:00:35] (music)

Jim: No. I think that the IPPC this week, or last week, that said that we’re looking at climate change, increasing global temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius is going to, essentially, wreck the world, lead the global famine, and catastrophe and –

Bart: Mass migration.

Jim: mass migration of humans and animals.

Bart: No humans living in the tropics.

Jim: Tropics will be under water, we’ll be in glass bottom boats. We’ll souring over the top of Miami, and other coastal cities, and looking down at the remanence of a previous civilization. Little things little that.

Bart: That’s a happy topic there today, Jim.

Jim: You know, every pod can’t be happiness, sunshine and rainbows, and unicorns.

Jim: I had drinks with a friend the other night, and his family were taking about moving from Albemarle County. because they’re concerned about climate change. They’re thinking about going to an area that is more protected from the effects of climate change and, better prepared to be self sustaining environment and family so they can farm on their own. Not have to be necessarily supported by, for lack of a better term, corporate infrastructure, that’s gonna feed them, they wanna be able to feed themselves, and support themselves.

Jim: I think it’s something that, it’s the first time I’ve heard that explicitly raised as an issue, but I have talked to a number of people who’ve explicitly said they do not wanna be, obviously not in a floodplain, but don’t wanna be near a floodplain, because, in the next two to five years, those floodplain will probably shift, and it will take some time for FEMA to shift their own flood plain maps but I think it’s something that’s gonna impact everybody. In some form or fashion.

Jim: What do you all think about that?

Bart: I think what is needed is a pipeline to run through our area. I think that’s gonna be an improvement.

Jim: Yay. Pipeline.

Jim: I think it’s something we’re seeing more. I think I found 15 or 20 different stories in prepping for this pod. I think the real estate industry for the most part, I wouldn’t say for the most part but it’s a lead, if you will, in some facets, of moving towards sustainability. Solar. Greywater system are still on the fringe, for the most part.

Jim: I think that we need the be much more mindful of the fact that building homes is a significant tax on the environment. It’s huge.

Jim: I think that we need to shift the mindset away from just how big of a house we can build but how good of a house can we build. Smaller spaces.Smarter spaces. More efficient.

Bart: And how can we update already existing homes to fit modern times.

Jim: Yeah. Retro fading to accommodate those things.

Jim: Those warnings and those reports are terrifying. In 18 months – 24 months, we are well beyond the point of no return where we are gonna be, screwed.

Jim: So I think it’s changing human nature, take the political aspect out of it, because, our politicians are just miserable failures in every facet of what they do. They’re never going to get anything done.

Jim: I think it had to be something where the humans, I mean I rode a bike here today, it’s raining. I wore rain gear. It’s not the end of the world, but I think that’s the sort of thing people need to be mindful of, is changing transportation. Changing eating habits. Changing how they build homes and where they build homes.

Bart: This is the part that really concerns me, as –

Jim: We all know that changing human behavior is actually a really challenging thing to do, and most businesses, what they do is they try and figure out what is human behavior and how do we accommodate towards that, vs, this is what human behavior is and we need human behavior to change to succeed at what we’re trying to achieve, and that’s a really challenging thing to do.

Jim: Unfortunately, politics is gonna a role in that because people are not going to change their behaviors if they think that politically something is not a concern.

Jim: What we should discuss on this pod, too, is why we can all do on an individual basis regarding our homes, regarding our just daily life routines, to change our carbon footprint. To just do our part. There’s a lot there that people are gonna have to really change their lifestyle’s on.

Jim: Transportation is going to have to change dramatically. The way that we power our homes. Power our devices is going to change drastically. We’re not gonna get rid of those devices. We’re not gonna get rid of motor vehicle . I have to be about the infrastructure that is powering those things.

Bart: We talk about some light rail?

Dave: We gonna talk about light rail

Jim: Monorail. It’s all about the monorail.

Dave: Dude, if we put a monorail in it’s so sick.

Jim: Someone call Connor O’brian and get him out to Croze Virginia

Bart: Monorail that runs –

Dave: Like, we’re in Croze, right.

Dave: So, put a station here, runs some light rail along the rails that are already there, like, I don’t understand how that’s as hard as people think it is.

Dave: I’m mean, I’m not an infastructure, or an engineering expert –

Jim: You’re not a civil engineering.

Dave: Just put a train on the tracks. The tracks are there. Just put a train on them. Put a platform on them, man, we could get this done in two week, max!

Jim: Big picture dreamer, I like that.

Dave: Listen, look, I’m saying ‘lean start up approach’, but to light rail.

Dave: So I’m taking, we find some old train cars, we put them on there, we start running that thing in there. Slowly, let people start paying for it, then we can buy nicer stuff. We can buy nicer monorail, like the Disney monorail.

Dave: Like, we get to that point, that’s fine, but right now we just gotta start this thing, we gotta get it up and running, start beta testing this thing, a what I mean is we gotta start running light rail.

Dave: Or we gotta start running a private bus, that drives people in from people from Croze to Charlottesville. We do it quickly, and then we can fund the rest of it when we have proof of concept.

Dave: Just say, we get a handcart. Me and Jim we’re going into [inaudible 00:07:15] in a handcart. Back and forth. Old school.

Dave: [crosstalk 00:07:22]

Jim: All I can see are the Flintstones.

Dave: I’m sayin’ we get our exercise in because we’re just pumping iron, and –

Jim: The problem with the Flintstones you’re also gonna be putting massive slabs of dinosaur meet on the side, and we’ve got to be reducing our mean consumption, apparently.

Dave: And it throws cart off balance, anyway. I remember that cartoon. Tilts to the left, it’s fine.

Dave: But I think transportation –

Jim: We’re sitting here talking about, we need remove gasoline and meat consumption from America, and, I’ll be honest, that seems like a very, very tall –

Dave: It’s a heavy lift. That’s a heavy, heavy lift.

Jim: Yeah but it’s not a matter or whether we need to do it, it’s a matter of how we’re gonna accomplish it, a I think that it starts small.

Jim: I always reference back to a story that Seth Godin, he’s a marketer, thought leader guy, he wrote years and years ago, and I probably call to it two or three times a year at least.

Jim: It was back when gas prices where four, five bucks a gallon. He was talking about how times a million math. If Dave rides a bike from his house to the grocery store, that’s a mile. If Dave and Jim do it, that’s two miles. If the three of us do it, that’s three miles.

Jim: Then you get into millions of people doing it and that times a million math comes in and it’s a lot of miles, it makes a significant change.

Jim: It’s something I think we need to be cognizant of that walking three – my daughter walks three miles home from school, not because of the environment, because she’s a pig headed 14 year old.

Dave: Still walking.

Jim: Yeah.

Jim: Still walking, saves bus, saves gas –

Dave: Doesn’t matter if she’s a stubborn teenager if she’s still doing it.

Jim: With like a 70 pound backpack. I don’t understand these kids today and their backpacks.

Dave: Probably filled with books.

Jim: Lot’s and lots of books that she doesn’t –

Jim: Less books. Less book. Books aren’t great for the enviroment it’s a bunch of paper.

Dave: I don’t understand this assault on the paper company, man. [inaudible 00:09:35] struggling as it is.

Jim: Digital is where it’s at, man.

Dave: From a real estate perspective, what are things people can be doing for their homes to less their impact. People in existing homes and people that are moving into new homes?

Jim: I would start with, I would advise my buyer clients to not buy homes near floodplain.

Jim: I think that’s a start, to have the market start having that conversation. It’s easy to say, oh it’s in a floodplain, don’t buy it.

Jim: I think it’s a small step to go, oh, it’s 50 foot from a floodplain, I’m not going to buy that. Or it’s 100 foot – I think that whatever that threshold is, for me personally, it would be five, six, seven hundred feet from a floodplain because I don’t wanna be near any rising water that’s gonna come.

Jim: It’s hard, because the buyers can say, I wanna build a house 1400 square feet that’s great, efficient space. Tight. High efficiency. All that stuff, but to get that, you’re building a custom home, and a custom home is gonna be more expensive for the most part, in some areas, than a mass production home.

Jim: I’ve got one client building now a 2600 square foot home, it’s probably going to be 6.5 or seven. It’s gonna be a phenomenal house, but that 26, 2800 square feet and same price point is gonna get you, actually a lower price point, is going to get you 3200 square feet.

Jim: A lot of people are just look at the pure square footage, and not the total environmental cost of that home. So I think it starts with the buyers need to start demanding smaller homes.

Jim: And the builders need to start being proactive and saying

Dave: Were not going to build something that big.

Jim: Yeah, but that’s a hard nut, because, if Dave doesn’t build it, Bart’s going to.

Dave: Yeah, because you’re asking them to work against their own economic interests.

Jim: Right.

Jim: So I think that’s a step, the market needs to start demanding that.

Jim: I that it’s simple things like conservation.

Dave: What about, and again, this is just me thinking out loud and not having an answer, just asking a question, the idea of somebody buying a home that is not a new build, they’re buying a preexisting home but how to potentially adding solar into the purchase. Making that a part of the transaction.

Dave: Leading the customer base towards alternative energy choices for our home, at point of sale.

Jim: I think an easy way to do that would be, one, seller initially. You finance the solar panels and the insulation, so the seller does that as an incentive for the buyers to take on.

Jim: Or, when the buyer does it, they immediately go through and they finance it through the solar company.

Jim: For more expenditures that are significant, 20, 30, 40 thousand dollars, most people don’t have that cash on hand.

Dave: Is this something that real estate agents are pursuing while the sale’s going on, or is that something that agents both for seller and for buyer could be encouraging their clients to do that.

Jim: I think it’s [inaudible 00:12:50] on the entire real estate industry to start having a discussion, to have started it a couple years ago, frankly, about incorporating solar and now storage. Having the battery capacity on hand.

Jim: The Tesla batteries are, they’re the thought leader, if you will, that’s on the minds of everybody but I think there are other alternatives out there that will lead people to be able to live a bit more off grid.

Dave: Part of that too, when we’re talking about how the market needs to [inaudible 00:13:19], Musk has been very up front saying luxury product but he’s open sourced is technology so that they can build consumer grade versions of their technology.

Dave: So, does it take a General Electric, or a Samsung or a Sony to pull into that open source technology about how they’re doing the battery storage, because, that’s always been the issue with solar for the longest time. We can generate it but we can’t store it.

Dave: Now we have the means to store that energy, and it’s just expensive. Can we get that thing to the point where it’s costs what a new hot water heaters gonna cost you. Which is not cheap, but 1,000 bucks, 800 bucks and you can get yourself a battery pack that’s going to store power and power your home for the next 30 years.

Dave: We will have to think about the enviroment impact when those batteries start going dead. What do you do with all the dead battery cartridges, and that is certainly something to consider from an enviroment impact.

Jim: Carcasses. I even heard battery carcasses referred to

Dave: We’re gonna start talking about Bart’s meat consumption now and the enviroment impact of that and the word carcass is going to come up again too.

Dave: Bart’s shaking his head no.

Bart: Look, I am all for alternative meat sources.

Dave: I heard they’re making meat in lads now, Bart.

Bart: Well, I don’t want that lab mean, but I don’t need a factory farmed cow. Occasionally, that happens.

Bart: Realistically, I do think people need to get outside their comfort zone on what they are eating. I think that rabbit is sustainable. It just is, and rabbit is also delicious. I was at [inaudible 00:15:01] one night and they had a rabbit tortellini, I am not really totally sure what a tortellini is but it was tasty, and it was made from rabbits, so it felt a lot better for me, as far the enviroment went.

Bart: Although the tortellini was also delicious, but like, I felt better about this rabbit. We were talking about rabbits, we were talking about dear.

Bart: Like venison, venison’s delicious, man. We can make venison delicious, there’s of doing it.

Bart: Yeah, it’s great to have a stake occasionally, but we do have to get serious about alternative meat sources and less meat generally. Which is very difficult for some of us.

Bart: I just had a summer of less meat and a summer of less meat was a lot less meat –

Jim: I’m just watching you lament your future. Just coming out of your mouth, it’s great.

Bart: Like, we have to get real about it.

Bart: I do think if people will expand. It’s just like by catch, when it comes to fish. There are so many tasty fish out that are not a problem. Like farmed.

Bart: There’s tons of stuff out there we can eat that we can taking advantage of that we’ve just ignored.

Bart: I’m all for all those folks that are foraging and figuring out different stuff, that’s awesome. I think the more people that do that, the more people that take steps towards that, and the more people that take steps towards doing things that are a little bit different, a little bit out side the box and expand what’s going on.

Bart: People would have thought … I am sure that if you look at cook books a 100 years ago that now is in abundance that we could be taking advantage of, and there stuff that we take for granted for being in abundance that those people would have been like, “What are you, crazy? Why are you eating cows all the time? That’s nuts! Where you getting your milk from? Why do you keep killing your milk source”.

Bart: I am sure there are people that would say that. Things change over time and we do need to be very cognizant about making an evolution towards eating things that are a little bit different and a little bit outside the comfort zone.

Jim: Taking this to a local perspective, the county just, [inaudible 00:17:19], they ranked climate goals as their highest priority for their strategic plan.

Jim: Which is awesome, I guess.

Jim: No actually plan other than budgeting, [inaudible 00:17:34], other then budgeting $100,000 in the current fiscal year to support these goals.

Jim: So they’re gonna throw money at it

Bart: I think we just found that light rail start up.

Jim: Just don’t put it in tech stocks, because those things are getting hammered.

Dave: Dude, Jim is dark today, man.

Bart: Jim’s taking out Wall Street today, too.

Jim: But I think that, great they’re supporting climate goal, whatever. I think it’s a laudable goal. A big step that they could take would be work with the city of [inaudible 00:18:07] to develop a comprehensive transportation network where you can ride your bike safely from the counties outer ring to the city center, and vice versa.

Jim: Right now, we got the city (of Charlottesville) doing a reasonable bike-ped program that stops at the county line, and vice versa again. You have those localities that speak good words but their actions are deficient in so many various ways.

Jim: I think transportation is something that is massive. Again, unfortunately it was raining yesterday and I had a tight timeline but I drove my car in three different times for two and a half miles each time.

Jim: It would have been better for me to have ridden my bike or walked. Little things like that, small sacrifices of getting a little bit sweaty before I met a client, no big deal. It’s not the end of the world, but I think it’s something we need to budget our time and change how we live. Fundamentally.

Jim: It something that from a real estate perceptive, I encourage my folks to look at their daily lives, and transportation is a huge part of that. If you can keep your radius down to five miles, as opposed to 30, or 50, for your daily existence, and it’s hard.

Bart: And you are really pushing the market, though, because the reason people are moving out of the city is because of affordability.

Bart: So you’re instantly taking a major amount of [inaudible 00:19:44] population and giving 15 to 20 mile commute, daily.

Jim: Raise the gas tax. Find a number. Find some sort of tax system to encourage people to look at their lives differently.

Bart: There’s a guy who’s about to go buy a new hybrid vehicle early next week, I’m all for that.

Jim: There you go.

Jim: A friend of mine on Twitter was talking about how he’s buying a Chevy Bolt, and how he loves the car and his goal is to get gasoline out of his life.

Bart: Without getting into the details of a car accident I had last week, we were forced to go and do some shopping for a new car and I was driving a Honda Fit, we were looking to go and get another Fit. We were turned onto, for the first time Honda has released their Insight but it looks like a normal car now, and I sat in it. I seen the way they’ve rebuilt the technology for the way that the batteries switching over from gas. It is extremely impressive. And 52 miles per gallon.

Jim: Yeah. That’s phenomenal.

Bart: We still need to be working to get to a net zero as far as our fossil fuel consumption but that needs to happen over the course of the next five to 10 years if it starts with people looking, legitimately, looking into hybrid vehicles because the Insight’s are affordable. The Insight are affordable vehicles.

Jim: Yeah. I think it’s … I wrote a story years and years ago talking about going green to save green, and I still believe this. Most people aren’t going to choose an environmentally advantageous way of living because it’s the right thing to do.

Bart: Especially if it costs them more money.

Jim: They are gonna do it if it saves them money.

Jim: Period. It’s not gonna be, oh this is right thing to do, I feel good about myself, it’s that things $10, this things $8. Oh really, the $8 thing saves me money? Great.

Jim: So it has to be something you look at their base existence is what the rationalization is.

Bart: So what are the most … you talked about size, you talked about power source, you talk about, I’m sure we all know about high efficiency or green appliances. We know about all those things.

Bart: What are, if you are building a new house, sustainability materials wise, how far has that come and what is out there for people to choose from that are picks that they could make over other things that exist that would save them money and would work.

Jim: Well you have sustainability flooring, that will save you on a monthly basis as we save the energy expenditure in the house.

Dave: So say another flooring like bamboo floors.

Jim: Exactly.

Dave: Any bamboo source you know?

Jim: I think there a guy I know who’s got a fair amount of bamboo in his back yard. Harvest one or two pieces and you’ll love it.

Bart: I know how I’m gonna redo my floors now. I’m gonna be a big chipper.

Jim: You could redo your floors and six week later you could redo your neighbors floors, and six weeks later you could redo your other neighbors floors.

Bart: I will solve all of this. I got my push cart. [inaudible 00:22:58] and then I’m rebuilding bamboo floors for everyone.

Jim: But yeah, I think it’s broader scale, it comes back to location. You can build the most efficient off grid house but if you 15 miles away from civilization, you’re still driving multiple times a day.

Jim: Or you build a more reasonably efficient house –

Bart: Unless you have an electric vehicle

Jim: Exactly. But if you live in a tight urban ish enviroment and you can walk or ride a bike for us to [inaudible 00:23:31] or green house or mud house and schools and work. If you can have a fairly tight existence, you can cut down on your carbon emissions, rapidly. If you just choose to life that lifestyle. That is a lifestyle that will save money, too. You are not spending money at the pump.

Bart: That is a lifestyle that will save money, too. You are not spending money at the pump.

Bart: Plus, in fairness, it’s so the we’re getting any hypocrisy concerns out of the way here. They had a walk to school day at [inaudible 00:24:05] elementary and I drove past everyone who was walking.

Jim: Did you flip them off, too, which you were at it?

Bart: I didn’t flip them off, but the principle Miss Kirby while I was trying to pull back out of her school, said, “what are you doing over there?” Miss Kirby is fantastic, she said, “what are you doing over there?”.

Bart: I said, “there are a lot of moving parts. I gotta get this kid to preschool, and if I don’t drop them off at this time and get over there and get over to Johannesburg then I’ve got a lot of problems on my hands.

Jim: Hopefully she’s not sympathetic at all.

Bart: So really wasn’t. And it’s fair on her part. I just wanted to make sure that anybody that’s listening to this like, I saw that guy drive right by us on walk to school day and he’s sitting there talking about sustainability and rabbits. I don’t really wanna listen to that guy.

Bart: Just so we’re getting all the hypocrisy out there. We all make mistakes. Not even mistakes. I knew with I was doing. I chose not to participate in walk to school day.

Dave: This is one of the most [inaudible 00:25:06] stories I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

Dave: “See ye later suckers”.

Jim: I think the last thing I would say about transportation methods is I think it needs done in Oregon to a certain degree, and I think some insurance companies are doing this as well. Is that you take, and as a real estate professional who drives 10s of thousands of miles a year, there’s been talk of having a per mile tax.

Dave: I drive 25,000 miles a year.

Jim: I drive about 32, 33. It’s a lot of miles. So I think that would a good way to do it but back to affordability and location. For my clients who choose to live in Waynesboro because its less expensive over there, that total cost of ownership is gonna go up pretty rapidly.

Jim: I don’t know the solution. The solution is to have intelligent conversations on agree upon set of facts that people can discuss and debate realistically, and as those words come out my mouth I realize are all profoundly screwed.

Bart: Dave, why can’t that ending Dave? Dave, why can’t that be the ending? Dave, let it be the ending.

Dave: It gonna be the ending but I may tag this last little bit on here.

Bart: It’s dark. It’s not the tone we were going for, but hey, we go there.

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