After recently completing 120 days of energy code training to hundreds of builders, architects, and building officials, the question of how to best encourage energy efficient buildings and homes is asked often.
Often, the public perception of energy efficiency is that it is too expensive, does not make sense, is not practical, or is political. None of which are true. The major obstacle in energy efficiency, or energy code adoption is education.
The benefits of energy efficiency are great, and equate to lower electric bills, meaning more money to reinvest in the community or an improvement to one’s budget.
What is the quickest path to gaining support for energy efficiency in homes and buildings?
One school of thought is to force change, and make it mandatory for municipalities to adopt energy codes. But, in States like Arizona, Arkansas, and North Dakota, which are ‘Home Rule States,’ industry and municipalities typically do not like to be told what to do.
Another avenue to promoting energy efficiency and simultaneously increasing energy efficiency awareness, is to start with the prospective home buyer, renter, or tenant. And, the perfect one to educate these people is the Real Estate Professional.
The Real Estate Professional can share the ‘actual’ cost of a home or office space by requesting an energy audit or copies of previous months electric bills. Many prospective home buyers are not calculating energy bills into the monthly costs of their home purchase.
If home buyers are better informed, then they are in a position to drive the home seller to be competitive in regard to the efficiency of their home.
There are efforts by the Government to encourage energy efficient buildings, such as the ‘Better Buildings’ campaign which aims to make buildings 20% more energy efficient by 2020. But, it is not only Government that has the power to encourage energy efficient buildings and homes.
Ultimately, the market will demand energy efficiency. But first, better education is needed, along with good tools and resources. The Real Estate Professional or Broker, is in the perfect position to educate clients on whether a home or building is energy efficient, and translate the efficiency into bottom line savings. All things being equal, would one rather live in a 1600 sf home with average monthly electric bills of $200 a month, or $400 a month?
The Real Estate Professional is in the perfect position to raise awareness, and assist the consumer in demanding energy efficient homes and buildings, and eventually energy efficiency will no longer be an option.