Kermit The Frog’s tagline is: “It’s not easy being green.” If he were to be referring to real estate, he would be mistaken. Every existing home has the potential for improvement, California is investing in retrofits, and people are desirous of energy efficient upgrades. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) expects the percentage of green building to double in the next five years to a 70 billion dollar industry.

California policies aim to improve energy efficiency. Residential Energy Conservation Ordinances (RECOs) typically require property owners to implement specific measures to reduce energy and water use. A property’s point of sale, a significant remodel or addition, or a specific date by which all subject properties must comply can trigger compliance.

California AB 758 is an energy efficiency law authorizing the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop a statewide program for energy efficiency upgrades of existing buildings. These upgrades could be mandatory, voluntary, or a combination of both and involve time of sale energy auditing.

California Civil Code 2079.10 requires real estate sellers and brokers to inform buyers about the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) program. An owner of an existing home can hire a certified HERS rater from an approved provider to perform an energy audit which will evaluate the performance of energy-related components (e.g. insulation, windows, heating/cooling system, ducts, water heating, appliances). Combustion safety testing, moisture, or indoor air quality are not addressed. The rater generates a detailed rating report, explains key elements, and summarizes the energy use and recommended cost-effective efficiency improvements.

The SAVE Act would require expected energy costs and savings to be added to the home-affordability calculations for all federal agency-backed mortgages.

Building Performance Institute (BPI) certifies contractors to conduct comprehensive whole-home assessments that go beyond a traditional energy audit and sets the standard nationally for home performance. It uses building science to evaluate a home, identifies potential health and safety risks, identifies cost-effective improvement options or needed repairs, follows national and state protocols, and assures work quality. A “green” home is not limited to the benefits of energy efficiency but also encompasses indoor air quality, water conservation, resource conservation, and community design. Contractors must be BPI to participate in California’s Energy Upgrade California Program.

Having recently completed the National Association of Realtors (NAR) GREEN designation course, Team Carol Trentacosta can help you achieve a healthier, more comfortable home, understand green and energy upgrade opportunities that can lower utility bills and maintenance costs, access available rebates and financing, as well as increase your home’s value!

-Contributed by Hilary Christiansen