Realtors® Incentive-Based Approaches in Support of Green Buildings

The National Association of Realtors® office building on Capitol Hill was the first newly constructed, green certified building in the District of Columbia, demonstrating NAR’s commitment to environmentally sustainable real estate development.

In testifying today before a House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, NAR reiterated the significance of its green building and reinforced its support for energy efficiency tax credits, block grants and weatherization assistance investment.

“NAR has taken a number of important steps to raise public awareness about green buildings and their benefits in the marketplace,” said Jim Helsel, NAR treasurer and a Realtor® from Pennsylvania specializing in commercial real estate. Helsel served as chairman of NAR’s Real Property Operations Committee in 2002-03 that oversaw creation and development of the Realtor® building that was certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and was awarded the Silver LEED rating by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2004 when the building opened.

He noted examples of NAR “green” support and commitment, including developing a Green designation program to offer advanced training and certification for real estate professionals; undertaking of pilot programs to “green” local MLSs; and partnering with federal agencies and other organizations to promote green building.

“Realtors® ‘leed’ by example,” Helsel said, using a play on words to emphasize the building’s LEED certification. “NAR cleaned and developed an abandoned contaminated site as the home of its D.C. headquarters. Fifty percent of the building’s energy comes from renewable resources, and 30 percent less water is used compared to other buildings of similar size,” said Helsel.

NAR research shows there is a considerable and growing market for green buildings, and that voluntary incentive-based approaches will do more to spur demand for energy efficiency than government mandates.

“We have seen more and more survey results showing a trend towards increased interest in energy efficient features,” Helsel said. “The green building market is already responding to consumer demand. Builders are providing products that the consumer wants. And this is happening without significant involvement from the public sector.” NAR believes that as more green buildings are constructed they will demonstrate their financial viability

“The federal government plays an important role in the green effort, providing public research, as well as capital and economic incentives. It is NAR’s belief that the government should continue to have a limited role offering incentives and grants to encourage the movement toward energy efficiency. However, we do believe it is important that the government’s role continue to be incentive-based only versus mandated and overly regulated processes,” said Helsel.

“Just as NAR demonstrated by building the first ever Silver LEED rated building in the D.C. area, we are ready to continue our example and to educate our members and consumers on the need to make environmentally friendly and energy efficient building and buying decisions. We stand ready to work with Congress and the administration in this effort,” said Helsel.

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