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Introducing the 2019 EverGreen Award Winners

The Green REsource Council’s EverGreen Award, presented at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) annual convention, honors those real estate professionals who have dedicated themselves to sustainable business practices and a green life- and workstyle. In addition to possessing NAR’s Green Designation, EverGreen Award winners are recognized for performing exemplary acts in regard to green practices.

Kimberly Pontius

One of this year’s winners, Kimberly Pontius, is CEO of the Traverse Area Association of REALTORS® (TAAR), based in Traverse City, Mich.

“This honor means a great deal to our association, as we will now be the proud recipient of three EverGreen awards,” says Pontius.

While the association was first awarded in 2010 for being a pioneer in greening the MLS, in 2012, then trainer and REBAC Green Instructor Bill Costley was bestowed the honor.

“This third award is personally gratifying for me,” says Pontius. “It signals an appreciation by NAR for over a decade’s worth of service promoting an understanding of the importance of green principles to our REALTOR® members and the consumers they serve.”

Understanding the importance of NAR’s Green Designation, Pontius is seeing the tide turn as more and more real estate professionals share his belief.

“A decade has changed a lot of people’s perceptions as they watch the world changing around them,” says Pontius. “I think that green principles are finally being baked into everything we do as people become more familiar with the triple bottom line approach to profit and prosperity. Personally, I think that the comprehension of the principles of green, sustainability and community resilience—which build upon each other—is what will keep REALTORS® at the center of the real estate transaction. I strongly believe that these principles will also be a part of the new membership value proposition of our association.”

The Traverse Area Association of REALTORS® first made an impression on the committee a decade ago with the greening of its MLS. This put the city on a list with Portland, Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and Boston as those leading on green initiatives.

“NAR was surprised when they did a call-in for whitepapers on greening the MLS and we sent a four-inch-thick, how-to manual,” says Pontius.

This was followed by an awareness by the TAAR of the impact of land-based activities on the water given that Traverse City is primarily a water destination that attracts a great deal of people to its inland lakes, rivers, streams, Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan.

“We began changing people’s perception about the relationship of land and water,” says Pontius. “We want them to know that visiting, working or living here in this wonderful place is a privilege that should be handed to future generations in a sustainable way. Therefore, we partner with our land conservancies, watershed centers, food and farming networks, conservation groups, local elected officials and land use professionals. In fact, we have a saying that states that this place is ‘Where Green Meets Blue,’ and knowing and protecting this makes our real estate more resilient to market forces.”

Being honored this year comes from what Pontius describes as “an incredible series of great and understanding board members and leadership teams who get it and have formed a continuum of and approach to systems thinking within our organization.”

These green efforts have helped consumers understand that the environment isn’t always on the outside. In fact, inside their homes is an environmental system that’s connected, and, further, the home connects to other systems that are outside of their personal space. According to Pontius, in order to lead a healthy and fulfilled life, both environments need to work together.

“People want a safe, secure and resilient place to live that reconnects them to the natural world,” he says. “Where I live is one of those regions, and when people come here and get out on the water and look back at the land, they connect these dots.”

Christina Mathieson

Another honoree of the EverGreen Award is Christina Mathieson, LEED Green Associate, Instructor for Green EDU, and REALTOR® with Keller Williams in Woodbury, N.Y.

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by NAR,” says Mathieson, who has been working exclusively on exploring the impact of solar and energy upgrades on a real estate transaction for the past four years.

“The goal of this work is to effectively demonstrate the value of solar power and energy-efficient upgrades when we sell a high-performing home,” she says. “It’s one of the great joys of my career to be able to share the knowledge I’ve accumulated with the agents I train at Leap EDU’s Green EDU classes.”

Hundreds of the firm’s agents have taken Mathieson’s Green EDU “Becoming A Solar Specialist” certification class, which uniquely qualifies them to handle the sale and purchase of solar-powered properties for their clients.

“In addition, Keller Williams strives to adopt sustainability throughout its business practices, including limiting the use of paper, encouraging our agents and homeowners to reuse and repurpose, and offering quarterly suggestions on safer cleaning products and ways to live in a healthier home,” says Mathieson. “We have a commitment to sustainability—helping our agents and clients evolve their homes by using clean energy, becoming more energy-efficient and improving their indoor air quality, and then ensuring that they receive the highest possible price when we sell their homes.”

The team at Leap EDU, especially principal Adam Barda, has been instrumental in enabling Mathieson to introduce solar energy and energy efficiency to many real estate professionals.

“We also work with a Long Island nonprofit,, which has a network of real estate professionals who are ‘go-givers,’ meaning they donate a portion of their earnings back to the community,” says Mathieson. “Through PinkTie, we’ve been able to reach out to this network, as well, and get them on the clean energy and energy efficiency bandwagon.”

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Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.