I can remember years ago when I entered the green arena. In 2005, I was managing two real estate offices in Sarasota, Florida in the middle of the real estate boom. As the year progressed, I began to hear about green building and the challenges of our current built structure. When I began to understand that our homes and workspaces could be toxic, I was not happy.
I began to inquire about obtaining educational programs for my agents. I felt if there was ever a profession who needed to understand these issues, it was real estate. In my research activity, I heard of energy mortgage concepts and again was wondering why my local mortgage professionals knew nothing about it. All of the players in real estate need to understand their own part in the contribution to building and renovating green.
As utility bills began to skyrocket, I became more familiar with how understanding energy efficiency could help homeowners lower utility bills. After contacting my local and even our national trade association to no avail, I could see someone needed to kick-start the educational effort for awareness for the industry. Educating Realtors was important and a few companies were dabbling in this, but what about the "chain of professions" in real estate transactions? Who was bringing these issues to their attention? A buyer needs to know from their home inspector the attributes of how efficient the home they are considering really is.
In the past few years, our company, Green Real Estate Education, has taught 5,000, with thousands more on the horizon. Through our provider schools, colleges and online partners, we are presenting practical ways these professionals can help clients have healthier indoor air quality, lower bills and obtain financing.
Our next step is to help developers who want to build green communities to educate their contractors, Realtors, local government officials who are charged with being more socially responsible and anyone who will participate in their plans. Developers are becoming very aware that building green will bring buyers. This is not whether one is a Democrat or Republican. While there is a genuine curiosity of how to entice the buyer to buy homes, the answer is right in front of us. Education is the key. If a contractor in a green development understands the savings solar installations can achieve in the long haul, everyone wins. They will take this knowledge and scale it out to their other clients. If a Realtor knows when showing a home that the freshly painted smell is not healthy, they can tell other clients to paint with low- or nontoxic paints. Mortgage professionals are being educated through our programs, so when people refinance for home improvements, they can share energy-saving ideas and how to achieve a healthier indoor air quality in the process.
As land use planners in government become more aware of the steps to create a community infrastructure that is sustainable, efficient and healthy, there will be no turning back. The U.S. Green Building Council, one of the fastest growing nonprofits in the world, is leading the effort for setting standards for green building and visibility for these efforts in the commercial sector. We should not forget that the residential sector is a strong contributor of greenhouse gas emissions as well.
Many states are establishing their own standards and the local community needs to know these organizations and where they can find information if they choose to renovate or build green. Green education is in demand. People are inquiring and hungry for their real estate industry professionals to properly advise them on what is available.
Green Real Estate Education teaches grassroots outreach and it is working. Finally after we educated 4,000, the National Association of Realtors established a certification program. We welcome their participation. We now ask banks and mortgage companies to educate their loan officers and loan processors so they understand these issues as well.
We are launching "Green Building for Mortgage Professionals." The content, as provided by MortgageEducation.com (NMLS: Provider ID: 1400051) has been approved by NMLS. The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System streamlines the licensing process for regulatory agencies and the mortgage industry, providing a standardized system for mortgage licensing. We have interest from other providers as well, which would involve submitting the content to NMLS. We know this is a monumental achievement but there is still more to do for educational efforts to revive the real estate markets. Let's educate homeowners through their home inspectors. Let's continue to educate real estate appraisers and sub contractors.
As consumers continue to battle survival in a fallen economy, let's remember that shelter is a precious commodity and we need to appreciate the importance of keeping it healthy and affordable. Improvements we add to our homes should emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a more comfortable and healthier environment for our families. Short sales and an $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit will not create a sustainable real estate investment and will not last forever. Another important consideration must be to drive value to be perceived as "resale value" for the future.
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 2010. 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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