It is increasingly clear that housing is central to the story of climate change. Home is where impacts from catastrophic loss from changing weather patterns, including flood, wildfire and sea-level rise, are most acutely felt.
On the flip side, houses are where we live and work, and energy use is directly related to emissions of greenhouse gasses. If, as a society, we are going to be successful at limiting climate impact to a non-extinction level response, it will certainly include a rapid evolution of how we build, renovate, heat and cool our homes.
The business opportunity for Realtors is to build brand and trust by advising clients of these trends, and to help them to understand the importance of investing in the future value of their land improvements.
Resilience investment is a path to reducing weather and climate risk to homes. This includes contextual risk mitigation such as flood protection, fire risk reduction and building and renovating to anticipate future climate realities, including thermal building performance.
Efficiency investment is about reducing energy use by investment in improving the performance of a house, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These investments pay back in cost savings and improved resale value.
Canadian Home Builders’ Association CEO Kevin Lee says, “Our National Home Buyer Preference Study confirmed that consumers want and expect an energy-efficient home.” I foresee that renovation and new build standards are going to be driving aggressively toward Net-Zero or comparable targets for energy efficiency.
When Realtors are invited to list a high-performance house, it is important that they take the time to understand and record the investments that have been made in order to provide optimal benefit statements for the property in the local marketplace. If you are selling a high-performance home it is also important to ensure that the lender uses an appraiser who is qualified to assess the value of sustainable features.
While most of the resale houses that Realtors facilitate are existing buildings, there is significant value in understanding that well insulated, healthy homes are being sold today as part of that inventory. The listing agent and selling agent have an important role to play in communicating the value of these features.
The future of buildings is moving away from greenhouse gases and toward resilience. These trends are happening at all strata of buildings in Canada.
The house of the future is not all about technology. Biology is central to a healthy house. Native species and water-efficient landscapes, green roofs, proximity to parks and tree-lined streets create significant value and quality of life benefits, which are central to high-performance houses. People love nature. We feel better when we are close to it, and part of it.
The Realtor has an important role to play in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. As an industry we have a leadership opportunity. As a trusted advisor we can make a big impact with our clients, while building our individual brands and trust. Start talking to your clients about the future, and helping clients improve their assets to meet the emerging market.