Green building and the professions and sectors it touches offer great possibilities, from revitalizing the economy to saving the real estate market. There are vast opportunities to retrain all who are losing jobs. It all sounds so easy, yet it just needs to begin.
Through our programs at Green Real Estate Education, those representing homes are beginning to wake up. They are learning to walk into a home or business and say, "do this and that" to lower utility bills and insurance rates. Ed Mazria and Architecture 2030 have it right. Offer 2% mortgage rates for those who want to become carbon neutral when they renovate.
My company teaches green building basics to those involved in the real estate industry, including Realtors, Home Inspectors and Mortgage Professionals. It is sellers and buyers of real estate that are beginning to demand a better built or renovated home. Education for everyday people to know HOW to create healthier indoor air quality, where to get products, and oh did I mention making them affordable PLEASE. A more energy efficient and healthier workplace and home needs to be on people's minds, and guess what, people are inquiring. But exposure for the merits of using green building products is the key, and all of the people who have green building products and systems to sell and market are at the starting gate. The challenge is to get them in front of the consumer for a fair price.
It doesn't make sense that government feels it is ok to give GM billions to do business as usual. If people do not have jobs, and an industry in which to focus a new breed of "worker," nothing will change and it will get worse. Consumers aren't buying any model of any cars! It isn't the product, Mr. President, it is another monthly payment. We still have a huge problem that people "in high places" feel the economy is turning around. Foreclosures are not even coming close to a downturn. If we do not use government funds for green education, consumer and business incentives to bring down bills and create new industry in the form of huge tax breaks and incentives, and if we do not drastically cut real estate costs, people will rent, eliminating the "American Dream" to own a home.
The "green revolution" represents survival, plain and simple. We need a total change and must create new industries so we can lower prices on solar, wind and hydro technologies for the simple result of what these innovations represent. Spending billions should go to tearing away what isn't working and bringing forth new possibilities. We need faster approval of building permits so people can develop green. Grassroots efforts on community involvement. Real estate shouldn't be $200k, or $500K or more for average people. Real estate taxes are way out of line. Who the heck can afford $1,600 a month for a home then $1,200 a month to eat and $500 for a utility bill, $150 for a baseball game for a family of four? Soon we will have to give up food. Homes should cost $75,000 and $150,000 again, nationwide. Wake up those of you who have degrees in economics. People are beginning to walk and ride bikes more to save money and the environment.
There are some innovators to point to, such as new cities Babcock Ranch and Destiny in Florida, which are using solar as their mainstay. What a concept. Florida gets so much sun. If you live there, why not run your home energy, TVs, radios and cars from it? If wind is so plentiful in Chicago or the Dakotas, and you live there, why not run your home's energy from it? If a 3,000-square foot home puts 13,500 lbs of CO2 into the air a year, think of why our outdoor air quality is diminishing so rapidly.
So do you think going inside your own home is healthier? Do you think it is then ok that your family inhales fumes of formaldehyde from your wall paint and glues and off gassing of your carpet? Did you know your six TVs use 25% of their power when they are turned off and no one is home? When we begin to see this and throw in capitalism, let's make some money America! We will create opportunity as gold mining and the industrial revolution did in years past. We need to develop a true economic policy that will be sustainable. Developing the green building and energy sectors represents survival, plain and simple.
As President of a green education company, I propose a challenge to all entrepreneurs and policy makers: to find ways to pump these concepts into people. As an educator, having touched 4,500 in the real estate arena nationwide, I urge every regulatory agency to make "green" education a must for every profession. The stakes are too high to ignore the obvious. We should require continuing education credits for all in the workplace, teaching us why going green will give us all a healthier place to live, work and play!
Kerry Mitchell is the founder and course developer of Green Real Estate Education, which is on target to educate more than 20,000 real estate professionals in going green by 2009. Mitchell established the recognized certification for the real estate industry, the GCREP.GL. She worked for 14 years as a licensed real estate broker in Maryland and Florida, where she now resides.
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