The Business of 'Greenwashing' (And We're Not Talking About Laundry)

| 11/16/2015 10:15:00 AM

Tags: greenwashing, geothermal, home energy, energy efficiency, real estate, LEED, Energy Star, Kari Klaus, Virginia,

LEED: As Kermit the frog might say, "It ain’t easy bein' green."

Well, it seems Kermit is on to something in the real estate market too. As homes flood the real estate market claiming that they have green features or energy efficiency and ask for a premium price tag because buyers think that they are getting an innovative, eco-friendly and energy-efficient home, the real question is, "How do they know?"

The Business of 'Greenwashing'

The practice of using eco buzzwords and claiming various green features to overly hype a property is known as "green-washing", and it can make it confusing for buyers in the market for eco and energy efficient homes.

Many builders are taking the extra step to complete their homes with a third party certification from a national certifier like Energy Star, LEED, and even Net Zero or the many local or regional certifies. While others rely on the marketing of their real estate agent to boast about how "green" the home is. But unless you have a run-down of all the green and energy efficient features and can weigh how green or energy efficient they are, will you fall into the trap of buying a "green" home just because someone said it was so?

Tips to Ensure that Your Prospective Home is Actually Green

1. Ask if the home has any certifications, either nationally or locally. Because there are a variety of certifications, check to see if that one focuses on the features that matter to you most. Are you interested in energy saving primarily or would you like to be sure the home hosts a combination of energy saving features like high R-value insulation and high efficiency systems as well as healthy finishes such as no VOC paint and zero-off gassing flooring?

Some of the most well-known certifications are LEED, Energy Star, Net Zero, and Built Green. 

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