Weather extremes. The realization that natural resources are limited. A grassroots enthusiasm for sustainability.Those are just some of the reasons that a green housing movement gains traction in a region.
Such has been the case in Texas.
Debra Waldman, director of professional development for the Texas Association of REALTORS®, ticks off a short list of Texas spots – including Denton County, San Antonio, and Austin – where sustainable lifestyles and green housing have taken hold.
As just one example, Austin residents have long been leaning green, according to Waldman. Recycling has become part of locals’ DNA, for instance, and the city’s network of bike trails makes it possible for them to divorce themselves from their cars and rely on two wheels for commutes and errands.
And in some parts of the state, people have seen firsthand what limited resources feel like because they’ve experienced water and electrical shortages.
“It’s not just one thing, but a bunch of contributing factors,” says Waldman, when talking about the incremental changes that have brought sustainability to the forefront in her state.
Thus, the real estate community in Texas is beginning to reflect that shift and its members are increasingly embracing GRC’s education.
During 2012, the state added 105 new NAR Green Designees, and for such efforts, the GRC recognized the Texas Association of REALTORS® with a 2012 EverGreen Award.
Waldman gives the nod to locals for the expanding number of designees and says getting green classes off the ground frequently entails a collaborative push among passionate teachers (see the December 2012 profile of EverGreen award winner Marjory Lokahi Gentsch) and local boards.
Moreover, she’s seen GRC classes steadily improve and become more relevant to members’ businesses. For one, she notes the three-level structure provides students with more comprehensive green knowledge, and classes are tailored to reflect regional differences.
“If you’re living in Iowa, the considerations are different than if you’re living here,” she notes. Texans need to do everything to shield their houses from heat gain, whereas during an Iowa winter, it’s the more light the better.
Such distinctions, along with a focus in Texas classes on water conservation and electrical efficiency, now are integrated in the GRC education.
And that’s important, Waldman believes, especially because of a growing Texas population that will generate greater demand for new housing. “No builder today is building energy inefficient homes,” she comments. That means REALTORS®’ education needs to be aligned with the market realities and they need the skill to market energy efficient features and to guard against green washing. “They really need to understand what green means,” Waldman comments.
It’s little wonder that she anticipates green education continuing to be a focus of Texas practitioners and Texas real estate associations and boards. “It’s something that we’ll incorporate wherever we can because it’s no longer a novelty and it’s gone mainstream,” she says.