By Cherie Ching, Advocacy Fellow
August 4, 2015
In late July, The Boston Globe released an article in the Magazine Section discussing the trend for energy-efficient upgrades in the real estate market. The article, “Will green improvements boost your home’s value?” addressed the issue that unlike traditional renovations, green renovations don’t always get translated into dollars. Although lowering one's energy bill is an attractive option, it may come with a cost that most homeowners and buyers are not quick to make. In addition, the average homeowner may not have correct knowledge about the value of their green renovation projects, making green education an even greater necessity for evaluating their home.
Our very own, Craig Foley, chief of energy solutions at RE/Max Lending Edge, was featured in this article, highlighting his Greater Boston energy study on homes. Craig studied about 4,600 homes in Greater Boston measuring whether buyers preferred natural-gas heating to oil, which tends to be more expensive. More often than not, the higher costs of an energy efficiency upgrade at the time of sale is not quite the best selling point when homebuyers are calculating their annual energy savings.
As a member of USGBC MA, Craig has made significant contributions for our advocacy efforts relating to home energy assessments, greening the MLS, and residential green building education through his role as the Advocacy Coordinator on the Residential Green Building Committee and Advocacy Committee. Alluding to the article’s previous points about education, Craig has helped USGBC MA to expand green education for residential homes to our membership, particularly during our events in the recent months: Energy Efficiency Hearing and Green Breakfast Advocacy Forum.
Issues, such as what are the true savings one can get from solar systems and what an energy-efficiency upgrade will do to a home are often complicated with green labels (and green washing) that most homeowners and buyers, along with real estate agents don’t often understand. This is where an accurate knowledge of green terms (LEED, HERS, ENERGY STAR) can play a major role in choosing the best green projects that will have a concrete result in reducing energy use, energy bills, and/or energy impact on the environment in a home.
The research that has been done to compare homes for sale with green features versus without has shown a 1.7% to 9% premium for the green homes in the different samples. More data and improved data will make those results more robust. Thank you to folks like Craig Foley who are helping with the market transformation and especially helping transaction professionals operate better – with better knowledge and better labeling tools. When greening one's home, the homeowner or buyer should know the effects of their green upgrades, even if it's as simple as cleaner air quality or decreased energy and water waste. Because what a great feeling it is to say that your home is energy-efficient, when it actually is enhancing your equity in it at the same time.
Original article, “Will green improvements boost your home’s value?”
Photo credit: The Boston Globe, Michael Korfhage