By Hope O’Shaughnessy
Today’s home buyers are becoming increasingly interested in a prospective home’s energy efficiency and now that quest is becoming easier.
In a recent webinar, C.R. Rollo, Vice President of Environmental Affairs for Meritage Homes, described the key role that real estate agents play in providing home seekers with data such as a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index.
“Green home real estate is an opportunity to help consumers to make a more sophisticated decision than their parents did,” Rollo said. By utilizing various tools, consumers can compare homes based on energy performance as well as other factors such as air quality and future potential energy efficiency improvements.
After the 2008 economic downturn, home builders needed to differentiate their products and provide added value to home buyers, according to Rollo. Marketing and promoting the value of a healthy and energy-efficient home has now become a major focus in many real estate transactions that include more highly educated consumers. “People will vote with their purchase,” Rollo said, and “There is tremendous opportunity for realtors to invest in green training to define value.” In France, prospective home buyers are provided with a home’s “green value” as part of the home’s documentation, which allows French consumers to make a better-informed decision.
In the last seven years, Meritage Homes has received numerous awards, including the EnergyValue Housing Award, Best Green Building Program Award, NAHB Builder of the Year and the four time U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year–Sustained Excellence Award.
Rollo’s webinar, sponsored by Green Builder Media, emphasized the value of having available a home’s entire energy cost year to year as well as for 15 or more years out. By capitalizing on various energy-efficiency data, home buyers can use the savings they reap in energy and use those dollars for expenses such as vacations or education. The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) is a source to find professionals who can assess the home design and energy savings potential for existing homes. RESNET also has a quick finder for a home’s energy rating.
The federal government also has resources including the Better Buildings U.S. Department of Energy scoring at http://bit.ly/bldgsolutionscenter released in August 2016, which scores homes’ energy performance.
Real estate agents have joined in as well with sites focused solely on green homes such as Colorado’s Green Home Finder at http://www.greenhomefinder.com.
As Rollo pointed out, “Today’s green homes last longer, cost less, and are healthier,” which translates into “More health, more comfort, and more disposable income.”
Hope O’Shaughnessy is a New England-based writer who has written for western Massachusetts publications including The Daily Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, MA) and The Republican (Springfield, MA). She also works for Green Energy Times.