What is “Green” Real Estate?

Brighton Earthship Roof Rainwater Collection

Talk about green! This house in England has: solar panels, rainwater collection, a windmill, is built into a hillside for thermal insulation, and used rubber tires as a building material for the walls. Flickr photo by Dominic Alves.

Here in Bellingham, WA, there is a lot of interest in sustainability and all things “green”.  Recently my thoughts turned to real estate and how it can connect to the sustainability movement.

Things that can make a home ‘green’ and sustainable:

  • Energy efficiency- well insulated, with no drafts; energy-efficient appliances; double-paned windows, and so forth.
  • Proximity to work/town/public transportation- less driving, and more opportunity to shop locally.
  • Garden space- grow your own food!
  • Re-purposed building materials- check out the REStore in Bellingham or Seattle.
  • Solar/wind energy.
  • Recycling/ composting.

So, there are a lot of ways that a house can be ‘green’.  I’d say that the best you can do is try to make small changes as they come up, and over time your house will become more green.  For example, replacing a broken appliance with a new, energy-efficient one, or expanding your garden.  The point is to integrate sustainability into your everyday life, and this includes your home.

When it comes time to buy a new house, it’s worth considering its green factor.  One of the biggest considerations is whether to buy a classic, older house, or a newer house.  A couple of points:

  • Older homes don’t use up any new construction resources, but can be drafty and extremely inefficient.  They often need considerable updating.  However, they are often located close to downtown and services which is a definite plus.
  • New homes use up fresh construction resources, and are often bigger than needed, leading to waste.  On the other hand, if build with sustainability in mind, they can be quite nice.  For example, LEED certification is given almost exclusively to new homes.

What do you think makes for green real estate?  What are you doing to make your living situation more sustainable?

2 thoughts on “What is “Green” Real Estate?

  1. Hi Mariah- I am looking for an eco broker or green realtor in Bellingham. I only want to live in a 3rd party verified building that is certified through a green building program. Rent or buy. Can you help me? Val

    • Hi Val, thanks for your comment. I would recommend contacting the Sterling Real Estate Group. They have ‘ecobrokers’ who are educated in innovative energy, environmental issues, indoor air quality and green strategies. Their number is 360-756-0021. Good luck and happy house hunting!

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