Prevent ‘Greenwashing’ with These Tools

green paintThe high-performance building industry continues to gain traction, which is good news for builders and consumers alike. But with this growth comes an emerging problem: “greenwashing.”

The media, Home Innovation Research Labs and industry experts are reporting that greenwashing — or presenting a product as more environmentally friendly than is the case — can be a problem.

“There are listings that say it’s a green home, but when you get down to it, the agent means the home has a few green features,” said Sandra Adomatis, owner of Adomatis Appraisal Service in Punta Gorda, Fla.

Understandably, greenwashing could make buyers more skeptical about a home marketed as green. For this reason, many builders look to third-party validation such as the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) as an assurance for wary consumers.

“Rather than you toot your own horn, let someone else do it,” said Kyle Abney, principal of Abney and Abney Green Solutions and an NGBS Green Verifier. “It’s easier for buyers to be rest-assured if they know an independent party confirmed the home was energy-efficient.”

A voluntary standard, NGBS requires a home to perform at or above a baseline threshold of sustainability in several areas including: energy, water and resource efficiency; indoor environmental quality; site development; and operations and maintenance.

Homes that are verified receive a Federal Trade Commission-compliant NGBS certification mark, providing buyers with confirmation that the home is a high-performance property.

Mortgage lenders also like independent certifications because “they provide reassurance that the property is what it says it is,” said Richard Durling, owner of Marvin Homes in Ft. Myers, Fla. and president of the Lee Building Industry Association.

Adomatis is confident that with the widespread use of web searches and social media, greenwashing won’t do too much damage to the green building space.

“Buyers are becoming more aware of it. Millennials in particular are googling what these green features mean,” she said. And millennials are making the largest gains in homeownership, according to NAHB economic analysis.

No matter what your generational definition or price point, be informed when looking to purchase (or sell) a high-performance home. Consider third-party certifications such as the NGBS, obtaining a green appraisal and using a green real estate broker.

For additional information about NAHB sustainability initiatives, contact Jaclyn Toole.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Duane Thompson says:

    Green is a marketing ploy but seldom helps the environment. Green energy claims are a hoot.
    Green houses are non existent. What appears green by fake media , when researched becomes ungreen.
    Ethanol, solar panels,windmills, all have quite a footprint when examined closely. About as big a lie as
    “global warming”. , but hey, Al Gore types made a lot of money on it though, along with the building industry. If the government quit funding the green industry, it would disappear very quickly simply
    because it is much too expensive. How about reporting the truth on “green” housing. A sod hut in the plains is green…little else is.

    • NAHB Now says:

      NAHB supports voluntary, above-code green building practices. The association recognizes that we have members who build homes that are all certified to a national green rating program, as well as members who build homes in markets unable or unwilling to support more sustainable building and development efforts. NAHB conducts market research on trends and building practices, develops tools and resources, and provides numerous educational opportunities on the latest advances in green building for members and other building industry professionals to use if they choose to incorporate them into their business models.

    • My, aren’t we cynical! Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ____ whether or not your issue is with global warming, depletion of the earth’s resources, or saving yourself a few hard-earned dollars. You can pick any of the above, or any of a number of other very sound and solid reasons to build a home that will last longer, use less resources, and provide a more healthy environment for your family. Some of us just happen to call that “green”, but you can call it whatever you wish. The National Green Building Standard was developed by a large group of very well qualified individuals, whose main goal was to give us a tool by which we can quantify the value of the good things we are doing in the houses we build. Not all of that value is in dollars and cents, the way energy savings are, and even when it comes to the energy savings, not all of the reasons to do so revolve around money. Please explain that to your children the next time we send them off to another war in the middle east.

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