going green

How one non-profit teaches Realtors the cash value of going Green

I recently sat at the back of the class at a wonderful event that was hosted in honor of the fifty years of the Reston Association. Reston, Virginia is likely known by you as the place where new urbanism really launched from the start, especially in Northern Virginia.

The class was designed to teach Realtors who may or may not be in the know about high performance home testing and a truly wonderful non-profit who is paving the way for sustainability called Local Energy Alliance Program, or LEAP Virginia. LEAP has a passionate Executive Director named Cynthia Adams, who comes from a builder background, and she does her darndest to help drill in the information about why energy efficiency just makes sense- not just for new homes, but for the retrofitted homes as well.

Equally passionate is Barbara Englehardt, the non-profits’ Northern Virginia Outreach Director who encourages everyone who is a seasoned sustainability enthusiast, or folks who are just getting acquainted with the idea to join in on the action. Together, these women educated those who came out en-masse about what it means to achieve an energy rating, or at least, start the dialogue about getting a home assessed by a BPI certified professional (like those that they have on staff).

Getting Energized about Going Green

As someone who has worked closely with several rating programs, it was amazing to hear that LEAP has the ambitious initiative along with Re-Energize Reston to do home energy assessments (not audits, but assessments- much less invasive and time consuming). LEAP, along with the Friends of Reston have a goal to achieve one thousand nine hundred sixty four of these home energy assessments in 2014; yes, 1964, in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the community.

Through the very active Reston Association, LEAP’s initiative will surely get that attention of those who were the greenie newbies and everyone in between. I started out telling you that I sat at the back of the class, and I overheard chatter about “green being so much more expensive” and “oh, those LED lights are pricey” and “are they going to talk about paint?”

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Value in Conservation

While proving energy efficiency value in the East Coast may be more difficult due to a lack of case studies, LEAP is working hard toward education of the appraisal community for green improvements and the value that they add to the housing stock.

Per EnergyStar, the average home value of an energy rated home was a premium of six percent. That is mighty fine. By the end of the seminar, the folks who were chattering about the expense of making energy efficient improvements were informed about the biggest “offenders” of home energy leakage (the attic, crawl space and the basement, which because of the stack affect draft air out of a leaky house). More value is also found in homes with certifications such as Home performance with EnergyStar ratings or the Home Energy Score, which is like a “miles per gallon” for your home.

Like any non-profit, LEAP faces challenges, like getting the word out about their programming, but they do have some wonderful people working with them to make the newest endeavor go far. Linking with the likes of the Reston Association, and the Friends of Reston will help them push forward to achieve the 1964 home energy assessments, an ambitious goal, which they should be able to achieve! With a goal to reduce the peak demand of energy, emission while increasing the value of housing stock, the message of LEAP’s program in conjunction with Re-Energize Reston was heard loud and clear by the newbies and the seasoned sustainability folks; especially when value was spoken to.

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