You’re searching for a new home and you think you’ve come upon your ideal place. It’s the perfect size, has plenty of natural light, and you can picture all of your furniture perfectly adorning each room. Better yet, it is completely environmentally friendly.
But is it actually?
In today’s eco-focused housing market, professionals are warning buyers to be careful of “greenwashing,” which is defined by Investopedia as “when a company, government or other group promotes green-based environmental initiatives or images but actually operates in a way that is damaging to the environment or in an opposite manner to the goal of the announced initiatives.” You might see this trick more than you realize — especially in the housing market.
Kenneth R. Harney writes in Miami Herald that greenwashing in real estate often causes consumers to pay more for very little benefit.
“Just about everybody likes the concept of green, and builders and real estate agents increasingly use the term as a sales come-on,” he writes. “But experts say that too often, what’s marketed as green isn’t what it purports to be when you take a close look.”
Home windows, for example, are a common example of an opportunity for efficiency. Drafty windows can increase energy bills by 10 to 25%, and new windows in general may remedy this. But are they enough to warrant a green rating?
While there are plenty of examples of greenwashing, it’s important to work with your realtor to really ensure that you are getting the best value. According to Harney, elements like non-toxic building materials, top-of-the-line HVAC systems, water conservation, and environmentally conscious site planning are all examples of actual green elements. By prioritizing these and educating yourself, you can learn what to look for in a green home.