When Ruth decided to became a REALTOR® in 2005 the first thing on her agenda was to complete the necessary courses to become an Accredited Greenagent™ and a member of The National Association Of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB), thus becoming one of the first to hold this accreditation in the Guelph and Rockwood area. A “Green REALTOR®?” Really? Isn’t this more “greenwashing”?
Your skepticism is warranted, so let’s clarify what a green realtor looks like. To begin with, it’s a realtor with knowledge about energy efficiency options you have to minimize energy cost and reduce emissions – regardless of what type of home you buy. This could be anything from how homes are heated and insulated, to the features that make the property as earth-friendly as possible. It’s not about ignoring those old stone homes that ooze with character, it’s more about what options are available to make it as earth friendly as possible. Green realtors aren’t engineers, but they know more about these options than the average bear. And they’re well connected with those that can provide specific advice.
For the both of us, living and working green is also a statement as fellow planet dwellers, that we care about the environment and community we live in. Green realtors need to walk their talk. It’s more than being a “locavore”, and buying organic food from a Community Supported Agricultural farm. We built our very own passive solar straw-bale house, the most environmentally benign way to build a home. After all straw is literally agricultural waste. Don’t confuse it with hay – hay is for horses!
Straw is an excellent insulator, and with 18” walls provides aesthetic opportunities that don’t exist with conventional construction. Rounded corners, deep sills and niches can be added to your taste and add to the “cool” factor. There are many other “green” features of our home, like: a living roof; pine doors manufactured by local Mennonites; and FSC wood behind our interior walls. The Weather Channel came for a visit and filmed the construction – it’s quite informative.
You can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acjk1fhfa7o
We built this home on an acre (or so) forested lot, and there was no getting around cutting trees down to do it. We did our best to maximize the use of those trees. We milled onsite pine for interior posts, and many of the cedar trees were used to create a dashing work-shed, cedar rail fence, “privacy walls” and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. We also milled an extensive amount of beautiful black cherry, which became our deep window sills, baseboards, casing around the doors, and treads for our stairs. And trust me on this, you can’t buy this at Home Depot! The wood that was too small to mill provided us with two years of firewood and piles of chipped wood that became excellent material for paths around the property.
Green realtors should also be working to operate their business in a sustainable way. We don’t drive around town trying to impress you with our high performance German manufactured vehicle, we drive hybrid cars. We use recycled or FSC certified paper and print on both sides where appropriate. We minimize our printing by eliminating hard-copy mailing of promotional material and newsletters. (News Flash: they don’t work very well either). We use the latest technology to sign documents on-line when possible to minimize our driving. And finally, we’ve found TrilliumWest Real Estate Brokerage, that cares about these things too.
Building community is also part of being a green realtor. We do that by volunteering in our community of Eden Mills. Tom is President of the Eden Mills & District Community Club, a member of the Going Carbon Neutral Committee, and is hands-on-deck volunteer chair stacker for the various musical events and annual Writers Festival. Ruth is the responsible for communications including the monthly newsletter, social media, web site updates and helps with bookings at the community hall.
Finally, a green realtor shouldn’t judge others for their choices. We all have different value systems and we respect people for theirs – and let’s face it, those German cars are pretty sweet! As “green realtors”, we have to acknowledge we live with plenty of contradictions ourselves (please look past the electricity gulping hot tub in our back yard). By being advocates, we know we aren’t saving the world, but we want to do what we can. For us, it’s about personal leadership that inspires others to do what they can. We owe it our three girls and our granddaughter.