Friday, March 20, 2009

Green Real Estate

The past month has been very hectic as we try to wrap up the major work on the house so that we can begin to install the final finishes & fixtures. Our goal is to have the house 'substantially complete' by the end of March! We are rapidly approaching our one-year anniversary of construction and are approximately 6 months behind schedule. As architects, we should follow our own rule of doubling whatever time you think a project is going to take, then add 3 more months to be on the safe side. Ha. While it turned out to be fairly accurate for this project, the next one should go so much faster now that we've identified a team of subcontractors and suppliers that we've had a good experience working with and who are truly on board with our green initiatives. We've learned a few valuable lessons along the way as well...but more on that later.

We've been meeting with a number of realtors recently that have various levels of expertise in marketing green real estate and in green buildings in general. A new green certification has recently emerged in the real estate industry. After completing three sessions of specialized training, either online or in the classroom, a broker can become a certified EcoBroker. By gaining an introduction to eco-friendly principles and products, these real estate professionals work to help "you save money and live comfortably through energy-efficiency and environmentally sensitive choices." The EcoBroker designation was founded in 2002, but has rapidly taken off in the last several years. Search for an EcoBroker in your area here. Of course, just because a person becomes a certified EcoBroker does not mean they are green building experts. In the end, it is best to meet with the individual in person and talk through, in detail, all the sustainable strategies you are either looking for or looking to sell and how they compare to 'conventional' building techniques.

While it's definitely a different real estate world out there in comparison to when we started this project (or even in comparison to last summer), we are confident that this house has a number of unique features to offer that will help it stand apart from the crowd. If you have been following our blog, I am sure you are aware of this. Now as with many other things in the world of sustainability, the real estate market is being inundated with anything and everything 'green'. As we are strong supporters of "every little bit helps", there needs to be a distinction (and your realtor should recognize this) between a truly sustainably designed and built home and one that simply has bamboo floors (not that there's anything wrong with that!)

To date, nearly all of the new green homes for sale in Philadelphia have been located in the Northern Liberties/Fishtown area or the suburbs. The Montrose house is walking distance to Rittenhouse Square, the Avenue of the Arts, City Hall, and plenty of shopping and dining...not to mention the stunning view of all of it from our roof deck. We plan to officially list the house with a realtor at the end of the month, just in time for the April house-hunting season. For now, you can read our 'by owner' Philly Craigslist ad here. Please spread the word if you know anyone in the market for a unique, eco-friendly home. We'd be happy to give a tour.

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