Brian Ramsay,  in 97209

What do you think of buying Green?

Asked by Brian Ramsay, 97209 Mon May 12, 2008

Today I received a wonderful letter from the developer of The Casey building in the Pearl. They achieved a record accomplishment for the first residential building to receive a Platinum LEED status. According to his letter, the building is designed to use 32% less water and 52% less energy than a conventional building of its type. Most of their units are one million dollars plus and they seem to be selling out even in a sluggish market. I know what I think, but what are your thoughts and do you feel the general public understands what green is and sees a long term value in paying more upfront to purchase a green home?

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Boyd Garth, Home Buyer, Pittsburgh, PA
Wed Jul 10, 2013
I always look into buying things that are better for the environment, and I was looking around and I found this rain perfume that is really nice, and the company says its better for the environment, or at least how it is made
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Duncan Hare, , Orange County, CA
Wed May 21, 2008
How its designed is nice.
How it was built, and how diligent the builder was is more important.
It's easy to build green, it requires more care and take more time.

Ask some of your clients if they care. I've yet to meet a client focused on much other than location & payments. Typically payments are so much greater than utility costs, that saving on utility costs is dwarfed by mortgage payments. The savings could be illusory (the increase in cost offsets the savings in utilities).
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Ute Ferdig -…, Agent, New Castle, DE
Wed May 21, 2008
Hello Brian. I think that buying green is a good idea for those to whom energy efficiency is important. While one could take the position that it should be important to all of us, the truth is that the majority of buyers will not be willing to pay extra to be green. Thus, I would say buy green for your own good, but don't expect to get a higher purchase price down the road, at least not in the foreseeable future. I had this discussion with a client who once asked me about adding solar energy to his property and he wanted to know how much it would add to the value of his house. He had gone to a presentation about the benefits of solar energy and the company rep claimed that adding solar panels would increase the resale value of the property. I had to tell him that there were insufficient sales data for our market to substantiate such a claim and I recommended that he contact the solar panel company and ask for some statistics for our area. My client did and the company could not provide him with sales data to substantiate their claim. I believe buying a green house is similar to buying a Hybrid car. I venture to say, that these days, people do it more because it's a fad than because they want to save the earth. Please remember, this is just my opinion which is based on my limited experience with this one client.
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Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Wed May 21, 2008
Hate to rain on your parade, but in some areas of the country (Northern Virginia, in my case), I don't think most buyers know or care. They want to know the price of the property, the condition of the property, where it's located (commute time, schools), how old it is, and how many bedrooms and baths. And if they've got kids or dogs, or both, they want it fenced.

No, most of these buyers do not see a long term value in paying more up front.

As Anne comments, buyers need to be educated and ask the right questions.

Let me give you two examples from fields other than real estate:

I'm also associated with magazine publishing, and recently a green advocate started advocating that the magazine use recycled paper. After all, that must be the measure of environmental responsibility. Right? Well, without getting technical, the grade of paper we print on doesn't come in a recycled variation. We'd have to upgrade our paper (thicker sheet...more product consumed), and pay substantially more. Those costs, of course, would be passed along. The green advocate was surprised; he figured recycled paper cost less, and there'd be a dollar savings. And our printer is already taking various "green" steps, from using soy based ink to recycling trimmed paper. So, there are multiple aspects to being "green."

Second example: I used to work for a company in the janitorial/custodial area. I remember one supplier was a leader in "green" products. Certain cleaning solutions, for examples, had no perfumes or dyes, and was safe for the environment. First, it didn't clean quite as well, though it was pretty good. But the main problem is that without perfumes, after something was cleaned, it didn't "smell" clean. The cleaning solution's odor wasn't offensive, but it wasn't "traditional" either. So the clients--the building owners--didn't believe the cleaning companies were really doing their jobs. As a result, the supplier had to add a small amount of fragrance to the cleaning liquid, so that objects would smell clean after the janitorial staff had done their job.

People "think" they know what green is--in this case, recycled paper and fresh smelling offices. People can be misinformed.
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Anne Fashauer, Agent, Boonville, CA
Wed May 21, 2008
I came from the interior design business for new homes and green was really the thing. What I find is that a lot of things can be considered green that don't impact the buyer's bottom line, such as building in urban infill is green because you aren't developing in the suburbs and increasing sprawl, but it doesn't mean the home will cost you less to maintain. Buyers need to be educated and learn to ask the right questions. It's great to be green but let's make sure it means something.
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Maria Morton, Agent, Kansas City, MO
Wed May 21, 2008
I think Buyers are becoming more concerned with Green building in general. As energy prices continue to rise and energy efficient building techniques and meterials prices come down, I believe we will see more buyer demand for Green Building. It's the wave of the future.
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Debt Free Da…, , 85260
Wed May 21, 2008
I would pay more if I knew the home would save me a lot on my monthly utility expenses.
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Suzanne Godd…, Agent, Portland, OR
Wed May 21, 2008
For most individuals and families, the question can be asked in a very different way. How important is it to you to have a healthy home environment? Are things like indoor air quality important to you if you have children with asthma or other respiratory issues? What about allergies? Indoor air quality is a critical component of green building that far exceeds any rating system. With the high cost of energy, how do you feel about saving money on your electric and water bill? Energy efficiency is the hallmark of good green building. And who doesn't want to save money? So the answer is pretty simple...if you care about your health and saving money, going green is a no-brainer. Unfortunately the marketing hype has diluted the message of what going green is all about. You can take it a step further and look at what materials were used in construction to contribute to a more sustainable planet. Recycled materials. And when you think about it, buying a home that is already built, means less resources being used, so in a sense, you're "going green." As a certified EcoBroker, a national designation for Realtors committed to environmentally-sensitive real estate http://(, I find that going green makes perfect economic sense when you factor in the cost of your health, recurring costs and impact on natural resources.

Suzanne Goddyn, Broker, Certified EcoBroker
Windermere Cronin & Caplan Realty Group, Inc.
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Stephanie Lu…, , Portland, OR
Mon May 19, 2008
To build green costs money of course, but the long term benefits and also the mentality of most portlanders seems to support this type of construction, even if it does affect their pocket dollar. I think that we all should support true Green projects and I love the idea that Portland is so progressive that we can really show the rest of the U.S. what matters most when it comes to city developement. I am proud of the people who have chosen to support Green projects and I hope that people in smaller price ranges will also have this opportunity. The issue there, is that since it does cost more money to be all green, some buyers simply can't afford the product. But the only way to get around that, is for those of you who CAN afford to buy green is to do it. So that the cost of construction materials will get dwindled down and it will become more of the norm. GO GREEN!
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Dirk Knudsen, Agent, Hillsboro, OR
Tue May 13, 2008
Ok Brian. Great Question.

Green is all the Buzz. But as a Realtor, Builder, Developer type I find that people are abusing that term. If I insulate a home really well and use a high efficiency appliance series am I green? probably. If I use Bamboo floors and recycled lumber and I green. Yes I would say so.

But what benefits we each receive as the effect of building Green is hard to say. There are at this point a thousand Shades of Green and it is up to the consumer to demand their level if you will. There is a big Green Housing convention on this very issue in Spokane this week. Hopefully some good will come from this.

I long for the day where we have specific grades of Green and a better rating system. We almost need a system based on points that allows consumers to see their level of green and what the builder has really committed to. Almost like the EPA or MPG rating on cars. We all rely on that system to make our choices.

I think the LEED status is a big one for the Casey and Portland being the Greenest City in America it is a huge deal. No wonder they are making sales in a slow market. This is a good move and as an early adopter I would say they are out in front.

I long for the day we have solar units and wind turbines on each rooftop. I am sick of big Oil. Really I am. So this is a big move and I say yes to that investment. We need bigger Tax Credits for this type of project and builder.

You are correct people do not understand the Green movement and they is many cases are being taken advantage of. There needs to be consistent application of standards. The Government should do this as the Home Building community will likely not be able to agree on any one set of standards.

Great Question! This sounds like an awesome project. We have to build customer awareness.

I am looking at the new TESLA Electric Car. At $100K people will say "NO WAY". But if I really look at that versus my SUV it costs about the same to run it. So we need costs to come down on all this technology and a better understanding of what is available.

Thanks again for this question and regards;

Dirk Knudsen
Re\Max Hall of Fame
#1 rated Re\Max Team in Oregon
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