Coming Soon to a Real Estate Listing near You](http://greenspotglobal.com/blog/?p=261)**
August 17th, 2010 **WARNING:** This house may be expensive to operate, unhealthy to live in, a burden on society and potentially unsellable.](http://greenspotglobal.com/blog/wp-admin/post-new.php#_ftn1)
Though tongue-in-cheek, this warning label ought to roust somnolent building owners who’ve let their properties drift into inefficiency and obsolescence. Especially the last two words – “potentially unsellable.”
Green building is leaving the realm of boutique niche and becoming the law of the land, literally. In cities across the nation, green building designations are creeping out of MLS description fields into easily searchable boxes, and building codes are swallowing LEED](http://greenspotglobal.com/blog/wp-admin/post-new.php#_ftn2) certification levels whole. Some bellwether cities like Boulder, Colo., are even requiring green building metrics (quantitative proof of green-ness) as part of the building process.
The upshot? Potential buyers and renters can easily see whether your building wears the mantle of green virtue or is an outdated, 20th century energy hog. And for every new building hitting the pavement today, 100 are 20-years-old or older. Simply, buildings of yore can’t compete with today’s high-efficiency buildings and systems, and owners of inefficient ones are at a market disadvantage.
The city of Portland, Ore., boasts that it is the first to include green drop-down menus in MLS listings, highlighting categories like LEED and ENERGY STAR. Real estate listings there also provide searches for features like high-efficiency furnaces and off-grid energy generation.
Last year, the city of Austin instituted the Austin Energy Conservation and Disclosure Ordinance (ECAD), requiring all residential property owners to have an energy audit before property sale closings. Energy audits track how homes use and waste energy, examining things like appliance efficiency, insulation values and even combustion appliance safety. (Think of it as an appraisal process looking specifically at energy use.)
Commercial building owners, if you think you’re off the hook, think again. If your multifamily or commercial building performs 50 percent worse than the average building in Austin (measuring energy use per square foot), the city will require you to make efficiency improvements.
Boulder, Colo., long at the fore of earth-friendly building practice, instituted the BuildSmart program, requiring HERS scores for all new homes and remodels bigger than 500 square feet. “HERS” ratings measure a home’s “miles per gallon” and essentially provide a window for prospective buyers and tenants to see and compare energy performance.
And in December 2009, the New York City Council passed the New York City Energy Code. Among the code’s requirements, all large-building owners must perform energy audits, upgrade lighting and assess and tune major building systems.
Cities all over the country are requiring new commercial construction to meet LEED certification levels. And not just left-leaning cities like Seattle, Boulder and Berkeley, Calif. But “God-and-country” bastions like Kansas City, Mo., Atlanta and Dallas. While there’s debate among industry professionals whether wholesale adoption of trade organization certification is a good thing, it’s happening, and new municipal construction in cities like these is towing the line.
Building owners ignore these trends at their own risk. And trends they are. Where cities like Boulder and Portland go, the rest of the country is sure to follow. It’s easier to read the tea leaves and plan accordingly now while it’s optional rather than wait for mandates from on-high.
](http://greenspotglobal.com/blog/wp-admin/post-new.php#_ftnref1) Peter Troast, www.energycircle.com ](http://greenspotglobal.com/blog/wp-admin/post-new.php#_ftnref2) “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” designation. The U.S. Green Building Council’s designation for green commercial building, and the premier green building brand.