September 2014 Edition of The REsource

In This Issue

 

 

GRC Celebrates Fifth Year of Annual EverGreen Award
Vacation Rentals Get Green
Green New Orleans
Back to Basics: 5 Ways to Prep for Natural Disasters
This Month's Tips

 

 

Newsletter Archive

Previous Issues

 

GRC Celebrates Fifth Year of Annual EverGreen Award 

At the GRC, one of our favorite tasks is the annual announcement of the EverGreen Award winners. It’s a chance to step back and honor those who have made great strides in promoting green building and in making the world a better place. 

This year, we celebrate our fifth year with five winners. 

You’ll get to know each of them better through newsletter profiles in the coming months. In the meantime, here are brief bios of each 2014 EverGreen winner. 

Steve Brown. His term as NAR president ends in just a couple months, and Brown likely will be remembered for the focus he brought to environmental issues during his tenure. 

In July, he organized and hosted the first the first-ever NAR environmental summit in Washington, D.C. 

His view is that environmental challenges and opportunities will be a part of every real estate practitioner’s life. As such, he has worked to generate action on environmental topics and embed a sense of environmental concern into the consciousness of the association. Brown is being recognized as a Green Industry Advocate.

Clayton Jirak, a Chicago practitioner with Redfin brings his green knowledge to his community through his work with several organizations. One is the Ravenswood Community Council, a group that improves the neighborhood by educating locals on sustainable lifestyle and business choices and physically greening the neighborhood. Jirak also worked on a charrette to plan the Bloomingdale Trail, a trail and park that will run along an unused elevated rail line in another Chicago neighborhood. 

Kim Mulligan, a practitioner with Cooper Jacobs Real Estate in Seattle, has devoted herself to educating herself, her clients, and her community about sustainable building and remodeling. In fact, even before she got her real estate license, she took classes in green building. 
Since 2010, Mulligan has worked with the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild in planning and promoting the annual Northwest Green Home Tour. She served as the event’s 2014 chair and will do so again in 2015. 

What sets Mulligan apart from other practitioners is her commitment to educating colleagues and clients about the true meaning of green building. 

John Shipman, principal of Energy Efficiency Management, is recognized for his expertise in green housing and his skill as a Green Designation Trainer. 

He’s also known for working with a team to transform a home built in 1975 into a high-performance property. The project, in Walnut, California, received the GreenPoint Rated Existing Home Elements label. It serves as a case study of how green retrofits can lower the overall cost of homeownership, increase a home’s overall value, and create a comfortable, healthy home that preserves natural resources.  

Shipman is being honored for his teaching, a role in which he taps his first-hand experience to bring green home topics to life for his students. 

Build it Green, a REBAC Licensed Provider from California has only been offering NAR’s Green Designation courses for a year, but has found a way to host nearly 20 courses since March. With their efforts, they’ve hosted almost 800 students in that short period of time. As a provider that’s able to focus on local and regional green building trends and incentives, they’re able to offer a unique perspective to students looking to learn more about sustainability. 

Meet this year’s EverGreen winners and relax with your fellow Green Designees at the EverGreen Networking and Award Reception. It takes place during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans http://www.realtor.org/convention.nsf/pages/homepage?opendocument on November 9, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

It’s a ticketed event and it’s free for NAR's Green REsource Council Members and NAR’s Green Designees, but everyone must register. Also invite your colleagues who are thinking about becoming GRC members. Non-member tickets are $55
 
Get complete information about the reception and tickets at: GreenREsourceCouncil.org/Annual

 

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Vacation Rentals Get Green

Solar water heaters. Wood-burning stoves. Greywater systems. 

How much do such eco-friendly features help in generating interest in and boosting occupancy in vacation rentals? 

Not too much. 

Yet. 

But there is a slow build to greater efficiency in the market sector.  

For example, a hunt for eco-friendly rentals yields everything from simple yurts and tiny houses to LEED-certified homes. Green vacation rentals aren’t only situated on the west coast, but also in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Kansas and around the globe.  

And vacation rental sites are paying greater attention to sustainability. Airbnb, for example, commissioned a study about the beneficial environmental impact of home sharing and it created a partnership with Nest that’s aimed at helping vacation property owners better conserve energy. 

Real estate practitioners who focus vacation properties also are seeing an uptick in interest among clients. “We have buyers who are asking specifically for more green items,” says Ryan Servatius, ABR®, e-PRO®, GRI, RSPS. “Call it green for the environment or green because of the money they save in their wallets, but in the end, buyers want it and sellers want to have it in their listings to get a premium.” 

Servatius, associate broker at Shores Real Estate, South Haven, Michigan, specializes in second-home and investment properties along the shores of Lake Michigan. 

Long-term green upgrades 

Property owners are doing their bit to green up vacation rentals too. 

For instance, Sean Mazelli, who works in the solar industry, offers a San Diego studio apartment that features a number of turn-ons for green-minded guests. 

Those include photovoltaic solar panels on the roof, solar LED walkway lighting, and a system that uses laundry greywater to water the landscaping. The rental also includes the expected low-flow water features, a dual-flush toilet, and LED lights inside. A private EV charging station in the driveway is another point of differentiation for the property and a draw for electric car drivers. 

For Mazelli, the green features are a wise choice both for the environment and as a long-term investment. The solar installation, for instance, is a hedge against ever-spiking electricity rates. Plus Mazelli says, “They’re improvements that I’ll see profit from when I sell the property.” 

Triple green

Jim Prugh truly embraced green ideals when he bought and renovated some historic properties in Linsborg, Kansas. 

His two vacation rentals, Tradhuset and Vetehuset, are situated in an area originally settled by Swedes in the 1880s. The town maintains strong connections to its Swedish roots with ethnic festivals and Swedish genealogy seminars. 

Tradhuset is a studio apartment located on the second floor of a carriage house built behind the Hjerpe Grocery and Vetehuset offers two studios above the Berquist and Nelson Drugstore. Both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Prugh’s first green move was just buying and renovating the properties. After all, it’s often so much more sustainable to renovate an existing structure instead of tearing it down, dumping the contents into a landfill and then building anew with freshly minted materials. 

Prugh wanted to experiment with the projects and challenge himself to create a green, historic building in the middle of Kansas. 

He rose to the challenge by incorporating an array of sustainable and energy efficiency features. Materials included structural insulated panels with an R-42 rating, an Energy Star-rated roof, solar PV laminate panels, and new windows with low-E panes. He also included what he considers off-the-shelf components like low-flow water fixtures, Energy Star-rated appliances, LED bulbs, and low-VOC paint. 

In addition, he salvaged and repurposed materials from a barn that was being torn down outside of town. The corrugated metal, wood, and barn gates all create unique aesthetic touches that let the rentals stand out from other lodging options. 

Tax credits, both for the historic preservation and for the energy efficiency features, made the projects more financially feasible. 

That said, he’s yet to see a direct correlation between the green features and increased rentals. After all, as Prugh says of central Kansas, “This is not a hot bed for greenies. But the green features do help me minimize the utility costs.” 

Realistic expectations 

When you’re advising buyers and owners of vacation rentals who are considering green upgrades, know that such features tend to be just icing on the cake for the bulk of vacation renters. Thus, most property owners are motivated by bottom-line costs, whether they’re installing big-ticket items like solar panels, new windows and geothermal systems or more common items, such as Energy Star-qualified appliances and programmable thermostats. 

Servatius does see green features gaining traction among owners of vacation rentals and says, “Before they’ll make a green investment, owners need to see a real financial benefit.” 

As for marketing vacation rentals, know that a house’s green features also are rarely a main motivator among vacationers. 

Terry Oldroyd owns a Sedona, Ariz., vacation home with his wife Eileen Cunningham-Oldroyd and markets the home (www.sedonacottage.com) as a spiritual retreat. Eileen Cunningham-Oldroyd GREEN, a 2013 EverGreen winner, markets property through Oldroyd Lending & Realty in Mission Viejo, Calif.

Terry finds that the location, scenery, and the idea of a spiritual retreat grab prospective renters’ attention more than the property’s green features, which include a solar chimney, trombe wall, solar water heater, and a wood-burning stove.  

But when people call about the property, their interest is piqued once they learn about those green features and their benefits. As Terry puts it, “The green features are part of the overall decision and they can help close the deal.”  

Marketing green vacation rentals

When you’re working with vacation homeowners who are considering green upgrades, here’s how to help them make the most of those features and market the properties to vacationers.

Test-drives – Promote the idea of test-driving a green system to prospective tenants. That is, market the idea that curious vacationers can experience life in a tiny house, life in a passive solar house, or get a feel for how effective a wood-burning stove really is. 

Differentiation – Use green features as a point of differentiation.  Most won’t stay in a property just because it’s green, but the greenness is a way to stand out in the market and separate a property from the competing the B&B down the street or the ho-hum roadside motel. 

Health benefits – Outline the health benefits of your green vacation rental. Those who suffer from allergies or have children with asthma may find a property with excellent IAQ extremely appealing. “For many travelers, good IAQ can be a dealmaker or a deal breaker,” says Eileen Oldroyd. 

Show ‘n tell – Don’t just list your property’s green features, suggests Kim Mulligan GREEN, a practitioner with Cooper Jacobs Real Estate in Seattle. Explain the health benefits to guests and how they help the environment and contribute to a more healthful, pleasant stay. For instance, quality windows and insulation heighten visitors’ overall comfort during their stay. The Oldroyds point out that bare floors -- no carpet – in their rental house eliminate common allergy triggers. 

Environmental footprint – Mazelli points out that travel, particularly by plane, has an enormous impact on the environment. Appeal to committed environmental types by promoting the idea that they can offset the impact of their trip by staying in eco-friendly lodging. 

Profit centers – Are there other ways for your green vacation property to turn a profit? Both Mazelli and Prugh offer on-site EV charging.  “Stop in, have a cup of coffee and shop around town while your car is charging,” is one potential marketing message that Prugh is considering to target EV drivers who are just passing through town.

Display your greenness – Use natural cleaning products, offer organic snacks, avoid using plug-in air fresheners, and provide clear directions for recycling and composting.  

Local vibe – Promote your community’s eco-friendliness by telling guests about local organic restaurants, farmers’ markets, bike trails, and nature hikes. 

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Green New Orleans

Heading to New Orleans for the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans 

It’s time to firm up your NOLA convention plans. 

We’ve got you covered with several green events and education sessions. 

First, the GRC just announced this year’s EverGreen winners (see “GRC Celebrates Fifth Year of Annual EverGreen Award”), and you can meet them at the EverGreen Award reception during the convention. It takes place on November 9, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

It’s also your chance relax, meet some of your old friends in person, and network with new GREEN Designees. 

The reception is a ticketed event but it’s free for NAR's Green REsource Council Members and NAR’s Green Designees, but everyone must register. Feel free to invite your colleagues who are considering GRC membership. Non-member tickets are $55

Get complete information about the reception and tickets at GreenREsourceCouncil.org/annual. If you’re already registered for the convention and forgot to add your ticket, you can easily log back into your reg record and add it on.

Green convention hub 

Once again, the Green Pavilion will be the hub of green activity during the convention. New green products and services will be showcased in one spot, quick presentations by instructors and meet-and-greets all are on tap and the pavilion is yet another spot for casual networking.  

Keep an eye out at realtor.org and GreenREsourceCouncil.org/Annual for a list of the meet-and-greet topics and speakers. We’ll also be promoting the schedule on Facebook.

We’ve also got you covered with several green-focused education events. 

Marketing New and Existing High-performance Homes 
November 7, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. 
Location: Morial Convention Center

Learn to think like a consumer and head home with a step-by-step strategy for gaining a foothold in the growing niche of high-performance homes. Nate Ellis, ABR, CIPS, e-PRO, GREEN, will teach you to think like today’s modern consumer. 

Maneuvering the Slippery Slopes of Environmental Pitfalls: Risk Management & License Law Forum 
November 7, 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM
Location: Morial Convention Center 

You’ll get a good sense of the current and emerging environmental issues that you’ll likely be facing in your practice. The session includes a speaker, a panel discussion, and a Q&A session on topics ranging from fracking and floodplain-related issues, to solar panels and clean-water issues.

Triple Bottom Line Your Business 
November 9, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Morial Convention Center 

Melisa Camp, Luis Imery, and James W. Mitchell will show you how to shape your business plan to cater to consumers interested in incorporating sustainability components into their properties. 
This is the first major meeting since NAR president Steve Brown’s environmental summit in July, and one of his goals was to make green topics more prominent throughout NAR. So don’t be surprised if you hear more green buzz around the convention floor, at meetings, and during meet-and-greets. 

See the full schedule of conference programs online at realtor.org.

 

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Back to Basics: 5 Ways to Prep for Natural Disasters

Floods, wildfires, winter storms. 

September is preparedness month. 

So help your clients get themselves and their homes ready for disasters. 

The American Red Cross lists potential disasters and breaks down the steps that people need to take to prepare for them. 

And if you work with bilingual clients, the Red Cross has you covered with information in multiple languages, including Chinese, French, Tagalog, and Urdu. 

Here are 5 ways get ready for a crisis:

1.    Emergency Kit. Build your own or buy one. The American Red Cross suggests having enough food, water, and supplies to last each person in your group for at least 72 hours. That supply list includes everything from tents, garbage bags, and wrenches to disinfectants, dusk masks and clothing and medicine. See the list online here

2.    Safe travels. Your car also needs its own emergency kit. Some must-haves include jumper cables, up-to-date maps, emergency flares, a flashlight, blankets, a spare tire, batteries, a battery-operated radio, a manual can opener, and a cellphone charger. It’s also important to have bottled water and non-perishable foods. Get more tips and learn how to drive safely in various kinds of disasters with this PDF Resource and with this article

3.    Utilities shut-off. During some disasters, you may need to shut off your utilities. Contact your utility company to learn how to do cut electricity, water and gas coming into your house. Be certain to have the right tools at the ready. 

4.    Family plan. How will you communicate with family members if disaster strikes when you’re not together? Do you have an evacuation plan? Where’s a safe place in your neighborhood or city where you can all meet? How will you get to your safe place from work and school? Do you have an out-of-town point person? Figure out just how your family will respond and communicate during an emergency. Make a plan, talk about it, and test-drive it twice each year. 

5.    Infographics: Instead of sharing safety information with clients by using words, try communicating with pre-packaged infographics, including: 
•    www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/winter_infographic.pdf
•    www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/focus/feb_2014_co.pdf
•    www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/focus/dec_2013_holiday.pdf 

 

 

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This Month's Tips

Simple DIY Fixes Cut Water Consumption

There are all sorts of little DIY repairs homeowners can make to save energy and reduce repair bills. 

But not everyone’s handy and sometimes words and diagrams just don’t provide enough guidance to actually help the average homeowner complete a project. 

Look to short videos for easy-to-follow how-tos, like these three about fixing toilet leaks.  

Sure, it’s a decidedly unglamorous project, but one leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water each day. 

1.    Toilet leaks 
2.    Locating toilet leaks
3.    Toilet water flow adjustment 

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All articles written by Elyse Umlauf-Garneau unless otherwise noted

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