Net Zero Homes

By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer & Graphic Designer

When a home uses resources and is the only thing between you and the elements, the argument that real estate and the environment have nothing in common goes right out the window. And with climate portrayals seemingly on a clock these days the world is taking action that will forever change the real estate sector and the dwellings in which we live.

The Race to Zero is the movement responsible for countries, businesses, and educational institutions around the world coming together and making commitments to reduce greenhouse gases by the year 2050, an endeavour initiated by the Paris Agreement during the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21). The measures being taken differ across the globe, but the Net Zero Homes and Communities program in Canada, or Zero Energy Homes program in the U.S. are just two of several actions being taken by governments in North America.

These homes already exist, they have already begun hitting markets, and will soon be the norm. Understanding this, agent Jim Smardon of EXIT Realty Metro in Nova Scotia took his own action by obtaining The National Association of REALTOR’s® (NAR) Green designation. It was something he knew he could leverage to carve out a niche for himself in his market, in fact, Jim was the first Green certified REALTOR® on the entire East Coast of Canada.

Fifty-six percent of respondents in NAR®’s 2022 REALTORS® and Sustainability Report didn’t know whether their respective MLSs® had green data entry fields, yet 63% believe there is some value in promoting the energy efficiency of a property. Half reported they were directly part of a transaction with green features in the past 12 months, but data was muddy on a green property’s perceived time on market. Further still, over half were unsure of how the dollar value of high-performance properties stacked up against other similar homes. The report also states that 51% of those surveyed found that consumers were somewhat or very interested in sustainability.

Like many agents, Jim often gets questions from sellers on how they can get the most for their home, or buyers wondering how they can get the home they want and be able to afford it and says, “Most of the time the answer to both of these questions is tied to eco-fitting your home or purchasing one that has already had that done.”

Where he wishes he’d see a faster pace is on the building code side, awaiting the day when new builds will be required to have a certain percentage of green or energy efficient components upon completion. Despite the many federal and provincial programs, he says there’s still a public disconnect in Canada.

“It’s great to see but I think programs need to be easier to access and quicker to payout. So much participation is lost due to confusion on all sides. But hopefully these programs will lead to a new norm of what’s to be expected when you walk into a house to sell it. Kind of the way it’s more common to see a dishwasher in a home now than not.”

The irony of being a REALTOR® and the effects of current development practices on the environment is not lost on Jim, in fact it fuels his passion that much more because he believes the answers can be found within this industry saying, “The norm seems to be mass clear cutting for neighborhoods, increasing urban sprawl when we should be increasing urban density instead. When permits and approvals are given out, there should be more focus on maintaining a natural green space of old growth trees, rather than just trying to replant. Also, when a new development has been approved, plans should maximize renewable energy usage. Repurposing and retrofitting older neighborhoods would be a far more efficient way forward and cause far less of an environmental impact.” He would also love to see governments incentivizing rainwater catchment and greywater systems.

Not only ahead of the rest, Green agents like Jim are a pivotal part of a powerful trickledown effect. He does his best to inform and support clients who in turn want to do their best to reduce their footprint, proving that each of us plays a small part in making big changes in the environmental impact our need for housing creates.

Tips for Green Real Estate Pros

  1. Let buyers/sellers know you’re Green certified right from the consultation process
  2. Use the Green certification resources to align with businesses in your area so you can best inform customers and clients on green practices, using smart technology, energy efficient products, and renewable energy
  3. Expand on your Green certification with further energy certifications in renewable resources like solar and wind to confidently offer clients more value
  4. Advocate for home efficiency audits to see exactly where a home is or would be costing clients money and what initiatives are in place to help remedy those issues at a client’s own pace

To find a Green certified real estate professional in your area click here for NAR’s® searchable database.

The EXIT Achiever magazine is your source for all things real estate and EXIT news. Read more stories and tips like this in the latest Adaptability Issue today!

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