Today, Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) laid out the agency’s 7 goals for 2010 and beyond.

  • Taking Action on Climate Change
  • Improving Air Quality
  • Assuring the Safety of Chemicals
  • Cleaning Up Our Communities
  • Protecting Americas Waters
  • Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice
  • Building Strong State and Tribal Partnerships

It is interesting to think about how the real estate industry can contribute to the improvement of our environment in our daily works.

Taking Action on Cliemate Change – the EPA is going to continue to expand the role of the Clean Air Act and expand the focus on Energy Star appliances, MLSs can help agents work with consumers to purchase green appliances and other green materials as long as they can take credit for them when they are marketing the house for sale.  We can help show consumers why choosing green options will provide a better return on investment, even when the materials are sometimes are a bit more expensive than their non-green alternatives.   We can promote studies like the one promoted by ecoBroker that demonstrate how green homes sell more quickly and at a higher price per square foot. We can get trained on green by ecoBroker or NAR’s Green Designation

Improving Air Quality – We have a lot of technologies at our fingertips to reduce the need to be in person conducting real estate.  We can work with our clients to do a lot of the “shopping” online to significantly reduce the number of homes shown and the gallons of gasoline used and emitted into the atmosphere.  We can attend webinars and use teleconferences whenever possible instead of attending meetings in person. Programs like make it really inexpsnisve and easy to accomplish this. How about a VIRTUAL office meeting?  Maybe more agents would attend if they didn’t have to drive to the office.

Assuring the Safety of Chemicals – this initiative is WAY overdue as far as I’m concerned, but I’m really glad to see the EPA has finally begun initiatives to qualify chemicals to protect our safety. In the meantime, we can simply eliminate the number of chemicals we expose ourselves to.  Ask your cleaning team to use only use green chemicals.  When renovating an office space, use no VOC paint, non-toxic carpet cleaners, vinegar and water to clean windows instead of ammonia. Even perfumes and fragrances used in laundry soap and body washes can be harmful. Be cognizant of how many chemicals you are using and reduce or eliminate them whenever possible.

Cleaning up our communities – many REALTORS are already very active in local community efforts.  If you have a chance try to get involved and work with your local legislators to make a difference. The EPA says they are steppig up their SUPERFUND clean up efforts. Be sure your legislators are aware.

Protecting America’s Waters – there is one simple, but unexpected way we can help clean up America’s waters.  STOP using paper.  By using electronic forms, faxing, and document management, we can help eliminate millions of gallons of wastewater generated by paper production.  The production of just one piece of paper produces
13 ounces of wastewater. To produce the paper needed to process real estate transactions created more than 1.8 billion gallons of wastewater.  We can eliminate this impact to the environment while saving money in our business by eliminating the cost of paper, printing, faxes, storage and retrieval costs. If you’re interested in just how much money you can save by eliminating paper go the Instanet website and check out their Paperless Savings Calculator

Expanding the conversation on environmentalism – REALTORS can bring the concept of going green into every element of their sales process. They can work in their focus on green into their listing presentations.  They can blog about going green on their consumer-focused blogs.  We can focus on it more at real estate conferences.  We can definitely dial up our focus on green. With the exception of a small segment of the industry I don’t see a true commitment to making a difference by going green  in our industry yet. 

There are simple, every day steps each of us can take to saVe money and go green.  We need to think about how to bake it into our every day operations.  There are simple things you can do every day to green your business. If you want to learn more about a brokerage can go green, you can download our free paper Make More Green by Going Green. 

Happy 2010 – I wish you a greener year in every respect.