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5 Takeaways from “Green Real estate” Training

I spent last Wednesday and Thursday in Northern Virginia in Earth Advantage training, learning more about green homes, green real estate, their respective relevance in the market and how best to help and advise my clients regarding such. Below the “fold” is a Storify I did and conversations I had during the sessions, but these are five big takeaways.

1 – Consumers (generally) don’t care how green a house is; the house could be painted with motor oil but if it costs them less they’ll buy it. In fact, making one green decision may lead to making less green decisions. (see also: Do Green Products Make Us Better People?)

2 – Green homes and energy efficiency matter. “How much does this house cost to run” is one of the number one questions my buyer clients ask, and this is more than a trend; it’s a way of life. See: Green-certified homes sell for 9% more, study in California finds

3 – I’d wager that a “miles per gallon” for homes will be common place in the next three years. I firmly believe that a “MPG for homes” would hurt resale value of existing, less-energy-efficient homes. The Department of Energy is funding programs such as LEAP and this Earth Advantage training and other such programs in order to create a market for energy efficient homes and products; I can make at least two arguments about this, one pro and one con. Either way, now would be a good time to learn about the SAVE* Act and see who supports and opposes it.

4 – There are more than 70 green home certifications across the country; Earth Craft, Energy Star, LEED are the most prominent in this part of the country. They’re all different; they all have different qualification systems and they’re all brands.

5 – Charlottesville’s @LEAP_VA program has retrofit 600+ homes; $370k projected annual savings; 2.5 GWh in energy savings.

Heck, I’ve saved about $2k in heating bills since my home’s LEAP makeover.If you’re interested in retrofitting your home, now would be a good time to do so; start with an energy audit (ask me if you have questions about what that is … I might write a post about it soon) and look at the 0% interest Power Saver Loans offered by the UVA Credit Union;

Figure out how you might save locally by taking LEAP’s survey.

If you’re interested, spend some time (scroll to the bottom and work your way up) reading through the green real estate training Storify after the break.

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A Good Neighborhood (in Charlottesville) – Belvedere

Bret in Belvedere writes : The other day the weather was nice and children and their parents were on the playground, on the sidewalks, and in the alleys, laughing, chatting and generally having fun. I felt a familiar feeling and searched for what it was and realized that this neighborhood, on these days, reminds me of Sesame Street. … I always tell my buyer clients to visit neighborhoods without me at various times – Sunday afternoons, Friday nights, Monday mornings … I have had several buyers tell me that they found the Belvedere neighborhood to be the most active neighborhood they visited. * as an aside, I’m baffled by the wide range of Walk Scores in Belvedere – n/a to 18 to 77 .

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My Clients’ New Home in Charlottesville

Thanks to Latitude 38, this is their new home in the City of Charlottesville : I’m always astounded when builders manage to actually fix the bajillion pieces together. I’m grateful to have wonderful clients who worked with a great builder to make this happen. Located on Mulberry Avenue near Cherry Avenue, another young family is moving in today and have plans to soon add a chicken coop and vegetable garden out back. … Note that there is a stream running through the front yard, so we built a bridge to access the house from the driveway.

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Green – It’s about Saving Money

While by no means a comprehensive list, some of the green homes in Charlottesville can be found in the following neighborhoods: – Belvedere – Old Trail – Westhall – Wickham Pond – Avon Park – Poplar Glen – Montgomery Ridge The Code of the Commonwealth of Virginia allows for :

…Energy-efficient buildings, not including the real estate or land on which they are located, are hereby declared to be a separate class of property and shall constitute a classification for local taxation separate from other classifications of real property. The governing body of any county, city, or town may, by ordinance, levy a tax on the value of such buildings at a different rate from that of tax levied on other real property.

…Energy-efficient building certification for purposes of this subsection shall be determined by any qualified architect, professional engineer, or licensed contractor who is not related to the taxpayer and who shall certify to the taxpayer that he or she has qualifications to provide the certification. — Part 1- Quick Update on the Charlottesville Real Estate Market Part 2 – Short sales and Foreclosures in Charlottesville Part 3 – Homebuyer tax credit in 2010 – Who’s Eligible?

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It All Depends on What you Consider Green

Simply put, it does not yet seem to be economically viable – from a production-to-scale point of view – to build a house with all green aspects , and frankly, I don’t think that the builders are “there” yet (perhaps they should read Builder’s Greywater Guide: Installation of Greywater Systems in New Construction & Remodeling; A Supplement to the Book “Create an Oasis With Greywater” ).

…I see what the production builders in Charlottesville are trying to do with “green” as a balancing act of capitalizing on the green trend by integrating simple changes (low-VOC paint, recycled carpet, rain barrels, tighter building envelopes, sealed crawl spaces, higher-efficiency HVAC systems) with making a profit, producing a quality product and doing something good in/for the community.

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Are Green Homes the new “Trophy” Homes?

The market is moving beyond individual green products and into the realm of green developments – because the market is demanding LEED-certified Neighborhood Developments (although I’d argue that LEED-ND has not yet reached mainstream vernacular) Courtesy of the National Association of Realtors’ On Common Ground magazine * – Experts interviewed for this article were unanimous on one point: collecting green-certified houses into a conventional subdivision on a former farm fi eld at the edge of the metro area would not a green neighborhood make. … For proof that “Smart” Growth is mainstream, check out this partnership that defies presumptions about Realtors always wanting to build, build, build at all costs – Those are some of the results of the 2007 Growth and Transportation survey sponsored by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and Smart Growth America.

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