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Improve Energy Efficiency by Offering Carrots, Not Sticks, Say Realtors

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RISMEDIA, June 16, 2009-Improving the energy efficiency of the nation’s homes and buildings can be best accomplished with incentives and education, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

In testimony last week before the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee, NAR expressed support for the approach and overarching goals behind the Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods (GREEN) Act, H.R. 2336.

“Realtors® build communities, and environmental issues related to housing and development affect our global community,” said Realtor® David Wluka, a member of NAR’s Global Climate Change Presidential Advisory Group who spoke on behalf of the association. “NAR is committed to efforts that advance consumer understanding of the need for energy efficiency and to reduce energy use. Toward that end, we support the proposed GREEN Act’s goals of encouraging energy efficiency and conservation in our nation’s housing stock.”

H.R. 2336 would establish incentives to encourage energy efficient building, rehabilitation and upgrades. In addition, the bill provides a loan fund for states to implement renewable energy projects and would encourage a number of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development demonstration and pilot programs that would provide best practices and great experiences for promoting energy efficiency in housing.

While NAR supports the broad goals of the proposed legislation, Realtors® are concerned about a small number of the bill’s provisions, although these are issues that easily could be addressed. However, Wluka expressed stronger concern about proposed provisions in a related bill, H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would create a system of energy labels for homes and buildings across the country.

“Labeling every home in America will not improve building efficiency,” said Wluka. “During this time of economic crisis, many families and commercial property owners do not have the financial resources to make needed energy-related improvements. Adding to the cost of homeownership would compound the challenges many homeowners are already facing.”

“We know that many of today’s consumers want homes and communities that are sensitive to the larger environment, and we are pleased that the GREEN Act would offer resources and incentives to homeowners to help them improve the energy efficiency of their homes,” said Wluka. “The consumer education efforts funded by this legislation would also increase public awareness of the availability of energy efficient mortgages and encourage movement toward green housing.”

As green building issues become more important to buyers, sellers and businesses, more and more Realtors® are adding value to the real estate transaction by developing green business practices. To help its members meet growing consumer demand for green building practices and energy efficient homes, the National Association of Realtors® now offers a Green Designation for Realtors®.

Realtors® who have earned NAR’s Green Designation are prepared to help consumers and clients in their search for environmentally friendly properties and work to incorporate green principles into their own practice. The Green Designation indicates knowledge of industry rating programs and standards, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, ENERGY STAR qualifications, and the Home Energy Rating System (HERS®) index.

For more information, visit www.Realtor.org.

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