I met German born Peter Feige, Founder and CEO of Efficiency Properties, at Dalhousie University in 1997 while halfway through a degree in international development studies and languages. At that time Feige was in the middle of a science degree in marine biology. Peter and I became good friends over time; it was and continues to be a nice merger between the sciences and humanities.
It was quite apparent that Peter was, and continues to be a strong advocate of sustainable development and human rights. We explored our views from our respective backgrounds and viewpoints. I was very much motivated by the manner that we pursued finding common denominators from our respective fields. It was soon discovered that environmentalism is as organic as anything else. Its effectiveness depends on community involvement, education and support from business and government.
The real estate market as a whole has limitations in its ability to commercialize and integrate sustainable housing into the mainstream. Major national brokerages like Royal Lepage, Remax, Century 21, just to name a few, have spent some time in market research and how to potentially incorporate “Green” real estate onto their marketing and sales vision. For some reason that vision stalled and still, to this day there are no accesible main stream solutions that properly tap into this rapidly growing market. The sustainable real estate sector continues to suffer from handycaps in its structuring; especially regarding brokerages and agents nation wide. Needles to say, demand for energy efficient real estate and sustainable features continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Fourteen years later after our first encounter, Feige set out to start a web-based business in response to major obstacles he would encounter over and over again in the real estate market. Little did I know what was to come.
The idea originated while, Peter and his wife Nicole, were looking for a property suitable for a passive solar house. As they searched, their excitement and anticipation was soon replaced with countless hours sifting through listings, phone calls with agents unfamiliar with sustainable features or energy efficient concepts like passive solar. Having to make multiple trips to properties in order to personally assess their sustainability potential became repetitive, time consuming and very tedious. Needless to say, to their disappointment, their efforts were fruitless and eventually gave up. 🙁
A number of years in development, the purpose behind an Eco-based real estate web platform is to provide a place where agents are able to easily and efficiently promote their MLS listings with sustainable and energy efficient features. Promoting features that are in demand increases the value of a home. It is for this simple economic fact, that major brokerages and their agents can no longer continue to do business as usual. The fact is that sustainable features and energy efficient real estate is already high in demand, Why? Because it is an investment that saves capital for the buyer. Quite frankly, brokerages that jump full tilt into this sector will stand to benefit in the long term. By the time the market adopts susainability as a norm, brokerages and agents who continue to do business as usual will become dinosaurs and slowly become extinct and obsolete.
People want to save their hard earned income from rising energy costs. Once sustainable features have paid for themselves, depending on the feature sometimes within a year or two, other investments such as solar photovoltaic installations may need 10-15 years, home owners will feel those monthly savings in energy costs really come into play. Not to mention a more comfortable home that is cleaner, healthier, economically and environmentally sustainable. In other words, a true, sensible and smart investment. Sustainable features increase the value of a home. They are incentives for agents to promote them and for sellers to discuss with their agents through the interview process. Also starting to trend, is upgrading or retrofitting homes with energy efficient features and energy efficient touchups before selling.
Sustainability in the real estate sector is inevitable. There is no doubt that green living will become the social and economic norm. In many ways it is already happening across Canada through a diverse number of initiatives in the public and private sector – for example, building codes are already getting greener and incentives for solar PV installations are available in some Canadian provinces. All that is needed now is to further educate home buyers and to create a gateway to bring it all together; to create that spark that has been brewing for quite some time. In the words of one leader…
“We don’t have to choose between a strong economy and a healthy environment.
The real choice is whether to resist it or embrace it.”
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.