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“Green” isn’t just for new construction




Green Crusade

As I’ve written before, I have spent the past year and a half learning the Green Building scene and I’m sadden to say that I still feel as if I’ve only scratched the surface.  There is simply a ton of information out there and frankly not all of it agrees, and some of it is just a bit too political or cult-like for me.  Having said that, I do think that social responsibility and healthier living is always a positive thing.  Currently there are at least three programs that real estate professionals can take; Earthcraft, NAR’s GREEN designation and Eco-Broker.  I’ve subscribed to several Green blogs, is my favorite site thus far.  It’s a very practical site and has tons of resources. 

Isn’t building “Green” more expensive?

One of the largest barriers to building “green” seems to be the cost.  The training programs I’ve attended have estimated that increased costs are maybe 3%-5% over traditional construction.  Our local Green builders say that they can build the home for the same price, and with the savings in utilities, it could actually be less.  I’m not necessarily convinced, but I suppose it depends on what the consumer really wants and how these things are defined.  

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The real issue that I have, is that it’s hard to find an appraiser who can or will give additioanl value to a green system home.  Therefore, the ROI of these improvements are questionable.  It seems that Real Estate Agents and Interior Decorators are taking steps to become better educated, but those who actually determine value are not quite as progressive.  

“I don’t buy into that Green Stuff”

So you don’t agree with the politics of the Green movement and you’ve not decided if “Climate Change” or “Global Warning” are just semantics….  That’s ok.  The reality is, that thanks to the media and HGTV, your clients are making that distinction for you.  Not all, but a growing number of consumers are looking for these healthy and utility reducing options.  It’s important for the practitioner to understand what the consumer’s needs are and how to best serve them.  You can think of them as Eco-Chic or Eco-Conscious, but either extreme can still benefit from your knowledge.  Energy efficiency is good on many levels.  Therefore I challenge everyone to put aside politics and take the time to educate yourself on what your client’s needs are.  

ASID and USGBC REGreen Handbook

The American Society of Interior Designers’ Foundation and the U.S. Green Building Council have hooked up and created an outstanding free resource.  This is a good tool to have linked to your web page and have provide to your clients when they are thinking of remodeling or making upgrades in preparation to reselling. 

REGREEN GuidelinesFree Legal Forms

Leed For Existing Bulidings

LEED is a certification program for GREEN Buildings.  In September of 2008, LEED released a manual for certifying existing Buildings as LEED.  

Leed for ExistingFree Legal Forms

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Written By

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is



  1. Erion Shehaj

    January 30, 2009 at 10:02 am


    You should also check out Stephanie Edwards-Musa’s . In my opinion, it is one of the thoroughest blogs out there on green building.

  2. Matthew Rathbun

    January 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm


    Steph’s page is amazing and I’ve passed it along to lots of folks. It is certainly one of the most thorough Green sites out there and a great example of agent-consumer education.

    It’s also one of the most aesthetically appealing sites out there.

  3. Stephanie Edwards-Musa

    January 30, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    *blush* Thanks Guys. 🙂

    Matt, there is a course out there now for appraisers but not many have taken it. Also, I contacted to Appraisal Institute to find one in Houston that had taken it and they said “We are not allowed to disclose that”

    What? That was crazy.

    Anyhow, the cost to build is directly related to the design and products used. It can be done for less for sure. I’m going to write a post soon about a LEED Gold property here selling for $15 sq/ft less than comparables. Crazy!

    Glad to see your interest in Green Building. More professionals in all corners of the industry need to learn more about it. It will soon be a normal way of green in front of the word. 🙂

  4. Judy Peterson

    January 31, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Matthew-this is an excellent article with good resources and comments for me to followup on. Thanks!

  5. Esko

    February 8, 2009 at 1:42 pm


    Green housing is still trying to make its way into the mainstream thinking and acceptance. Its progress in recent years has been pretty good and there is plenty of info available on the Internet. The current economic stagnation is temporarily, it seems and I hope so, slowing the pace, but long-term it is the only choice we have. We need strong public and private direction to educate the consumer of its merits.

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