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4 Green Education Conversation Starters

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By Al Medina, Director, NAR’s Green Designation

RISMEDIA, June 28, 2011—Do you know people with college-bound kids? If so, then you know that one obsession revolves around the higher education process. ACT scores, their kids’ chance of getting into their first-choice school, and the grand college tour are regular fodder on the cocktail party circuit.

Believe it or not, the topic can be the starting point for any REALTOR® looking for green conversation, and a way to soft-pedal any expertise you may have on green issues, including cost savings and healthier living choices. By offering up useful insight, you just might snag some new contacts for your business.

Here are four ways to broach the subject, along with tips and information to share with prospects.

1. Green careers

Opening line: “Wow, if I had it to do again, I’d love to go back and get a degree for one of those green collar jobs.”

Tips and information: There’s no shortage of info about green jobs. Here are some sources:

• For those unfamiliar with the growth of green jobs, you could share some statistics and point them to some reading, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov/green) and a green job forecast by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES). One compelling statistic: ASES says that as many as 37 million jobs can be generated by the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries in the U.S. by 2030.

• Help them understand how to hunt down green jobs. The information could help both career switchers in your sphere of influence and their kids. For tips, click here.

• Poke around green job sites, such as www.greenjobs.com and www.greatgreencareers.com, to get a sense of the kinds of positions available and the qualifications employers are seeking. Jobs for those with a science and technical background abound, but you’ll also see a growing need for green jobs that include speech writers, social media managers and business developers.

2. Green colleges

Opening line: “You know, I just saw some websites and a guide about how colleges are going green on their campuses, and all the new majors they have for students.”

Tips and information:

• Point people to the The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition, to help them locate a school that takes green seriously. And the site www.greenreportcard.org keeps tabs on sustainable universities and colleges and allows you to compare the various institutions.

• See the GRC story, “Ivory Towers Turn Green” (June 2010) to learn about how schools are greening their curricula.

• Ask them to ponder the environmental impact (flights and road trips, for one) of sending kids to schools thousands of miles from home. You buy locally, so why not educate locally too?

3. Saving green

Opening line: “Are your kids interested in a green career? There are some scholarships out there for kids who pick green majors.”

Tips and information:

• Do some research and arm yourself with information about local groups—clubs, companies, and individuals—offering scholarships. Some, of course, have very specific guidelines in terms of residency, major, ethnicity, and so forth. But if a kid fits the criteria, he or she may land the money. And though such scholarships may not fund a full ride, $1,000 here and $500 there all cut the load parents have to bear.

4. Low-impact college tours

Opening line: “The cost for all those trips can really add up with gas prices so high.”

And if you’re talking to someone you know is committed to the environment, you might add, “They also can really ratchet up your carbon footprint.”

Tips:

• Visit virtually—Narrow down the choices by taking some virtual college tours at www.greencollegetour.com.

• Sustainable sleeps—Point people to sustainable lodging and offer sites that will help them lower their impact. They include www.environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com and www.istaygreen.org for green hotels. Don’t rule out hostels and camping.

• Skirt traffic—Suggest alternate forms of transportation, such as bikes and trains, to reach college campuses. If those aren’t options, apps, like GasBuddy (www.gasbuddy.com), www.waze.com/homepage, and http://route4me.com can help green up and cut costs by providing ways to locate cheap fuel, skirt traffic jams, and pick optimal routes.

• Fly greener—Consider an airline that gets a thumbs-up for eco-friendliness. For more information, click here and here.

• Green chow—Tap GreenGuide or iVegetarian and VeganXpress to find veg restaurants on the road. Look to www.urbanspoon.com/mobile-downloads for dining spots in numerous cities. There, a search for “organic restaurants” yields the top 10 organic spots in each of the cities the site covers.

Bright idea: If a bunch of students in your neighborhood are interested in road-tripping to schools, why not suggest to parents that they do one big car pool? You could be the point person to connect those who are game for a group trek.

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