Craig Foley (third from left) had support in high places when he taught the first NAR Green designation course in New Hampshire in March 2017. Among his original students were, from left, 2017 NHAR President Rachel Eames, 2018 NHAR President Gerry O'Connell and 2016 NHAR President Al Michalovic.
Associations typically bow to members' wills. If Realtors ask for Lucky Charms, leadership tries not to deliver Bran Flakes.
Then there's the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS.
Though a poll showed NHAR members' indifference to green and sustainability, that resounding "meh" didn't discourage NHAR leaders.
Instead, they took a stance of, "Give 'em what they need, not what they want."
That attitude got the association's Sustainability Working Group off the ground, and NAR subsequently recognized the efforts by presenting NHAR with the 2018 EverGreen Award.
Though planning started well before 2017, NHAR's push for green ended up delivering a Green Symposium, a crop of new NAR Green designees and the freshly minted Sustainability Working Group all in the space of one year.
"Green was coming, and it was high time to prepare for it," said Gerry O'Connell, NHAR's 2018 President, who considered it a responsibility to give members the skills they'd need.
There were other reasons, too.
New Hampshire has long, cold winters. Energy is expensive, and those high costs did little to make the state desireable and competitive when trying to attract new businesses and residents.
Plus, homeowners were making noise about their pricey energy bills, and some had already taken steps toward sustainability by tapping the state's solar incentives.
Al Michalovic, NHAR's 2016 President, spotted condo buildings that were connected to communal solar and farmers with solar arrays on their barns, for example.
His own awakening came in 2008, when he traded in his pick-up truck for a hybrid, and then started reading about sustainability and energy efficiency. He also started attending national real estate meetings and hearing compelling messages from speakers like Sandy Adomatis, SRA, LEED Green Associate, Adomatis Appraisal Service, and Craig Foley, GREEN, founder of Sustainable Real Estate Consulting Services.
Thanks to his own home greening efforts, including the installation of solar PV and a heat pump, Michaolvic saw his monthly electric bill plunge from $190 to $12.80.
Wouldn't others want such savings? Didn't it make sense for real estate practitioners to be able to discuss solar with clients who already were shopping for it? And isn't it part of practitioners' jobs to advise home owners on saving energy and money, and making their homes more comfortable and efficient?
NHAR's first foray into green was a one-day educational event it hosted in March 2017. The New England Green Homes Symposium attracted about 125 real estate practitioners, appraisers, builders, solar PV providers and homeowners.
The next day, Foley delivered a two-day NAR Green designation training class. The headcount: 60, and among them were three key NHAR leaders, 2017 NHAR President Rachel Eames, O'Connell and Michalovic.
"I had never had a Green designation class in which such complete support by association leadership was so clear," Foley said.
Ever since, NHAR's green efforts have been snowballing.
That fall, Foley was invited to do another round of NAR Green designation training. Thanks to those classes, the number of Green designees in New Hampshire jumped from 23 in 2016 to 128 in 2017, and more education is on tap for 2019.
In the fall of 2017, NHAR also formed its first Sustainability Working Group, and the expectation is that its initiatives will be felt across New Hampshire and create momentum toward helping real estate practitioners, builders and home owners find green opportunities.
"Green has become a force," O'Connell said. "Long may it continue."
(Reprinted with permission of the National Association of REALTORS.)
"Amidst the sea of change to which the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS has played witness in its 85 years, one thing that has remained constant is the Realtor 'R' and the value we bring to every real estate transaction in which we take part. We are part of a unique community where our familial cooperation transcends our business competition. These are not mere platitudes, but our living ideals, and they are, in fact, the foundation on which we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day affairs."
Ben Cushing, 2023 President, New Hampshire REALTORS