PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Leading the Way on Sustainability
HGAR has long been in the vanguard, leading the way in taking on tough issues and exploring new developments and trends that impact the livelihoods of our members and affect our industry. Since I believe we must always lead, HGAR has just launched its Committee on Sustainability, joining a very small group of Realtor associations tackling sustainability issues head-on.
As Realtors, our aim is to neither deny climate change or advance initiatives that always take every means available to “save the planet.” As a real estate trade association, we must provide our members with a means of discussion, education and strategic thinking on the intersection of sustainability and real estate. This is why NAR founded the Realtor Sustainability Program in 2016. Because of this intersectionality, Realtors must be leaders in the dialogue on real estate sustainability among real estate agents, brokers, consumers and trade associations.
Whether you agree with climate change or not is irrelevant because lawmakers at the local, state, and national levels are already promoting policies and enacting laws regarding sustainability. The role of HGAR’s Committee on Sustainability is to be engaged in the discussion so that our members can better understand how the intersection of sustainability and real estate has a direct impact on our industry and your business.
So, what is NAR’s policy? NAR advocates for policies that balance economic development with environmental protection, while focusing on how these issues affect housing, real estate, homeowners and our Realtor members?
NAR advocates for voluntary, market-based solutions to address excessive pollution and degradation of the nation’s waterways, while always being mindful of, and vigorously defending private property rights. This includes supporting cost-effective strategies that facilitate a positive, voluntary market response to energy efficiency, resiliency, sustainability and maintaining housing affordability. NAR opposes transaction-triggered mandates or requirements that impose undue economic impact on property owners and managers.
Realtors already recognize the importance of sustainability issues. According to NAR’s 2022 Sustainability Report, 63% of Realtors surveyed said energy efficiency promotion in listings was valuable. Fifty-percent of respondents said that in the prior 12 months they had been directly involved with a property that had green features. A total of 51% of respondents found clients were at least interested in sustainability. Nearly a third of all MLSs now also feature “green” fields. These statistics demonstrate how both our industry and consumer preferences are evolving.
However, Realtors need to remain aware of how some proposed policies may have negative and unintended consequences for our industry, our businesses and consumers. A case in point is the New York State Climate Action Council’s Scoping Plan, which would: 1) prohibit new natural gas service to existing buildings; 2) prohibit propane, natural gas and oil equipment in new homes in 2024; 3) prohibit traditional heating systems in existing homes beginning in 2030, 4) ban natural gas appliances in homes beginning in 2035, 5) ban the sale of gasoline vehicles in New York in 2035, and 6) require single and multifamily property owners to obtain and disclose prior year energy consumption and energy performance ratings in real estate listings.
While the Scoping Plan reflects New York State’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions, serious and significant questions remain unanswered about the costs and feasibility of some of the plan’s recommendations. According to the New York State Association of Realtors, the Scoping Plan fails to adequately analyze the economic realities faced by New Yorkers and sheds no light on the fiscal impact these recommendations will have on current and future homeowners and commercial property owners.
As our experience at Lobby Day and our interactions with our elected officials demonstrate, lawmakers do not always understand our industry and they need our guidance. Through our Committee on Sustainability, HGAR aims to listen, learn, and influence a discussion that is already going on regarding the intersection of sustainability and real estate and its impact on our industry, consumers and your business.
All year long, HGAR has been exploring sustainability issues. On March 23, HGAR’s Commercial & Investment Division hosted the 2023 Economic Development Roundtable with top experts discussing the local economic development projects and focusing on 1) alternative energy sources to replace fossil fuels, 2) retrofitting existing structures to improve energy efficiency and achieve carbon neutrality, and 3) climate friendly technologies, clean energy initiatives, and transportation redevelopment.
On April 26, HGAR partnered with the Women’s Council of Realtors to present “Putting the Gr$$n in Green”, exploring how consumers can save money when purchasing sustainable products such as electric cars, heat pumps, solar panels and energy-efficient appliances.
On May 25 HGAR’s CID presented “Sustainability & The Electrification of New York,” exploring the state’s mandates to electrify both pre-existing and newly proposed commercial real estate properties.
On June 1, HGAR joined the Westchester County Association for its annual sustainability conference, featuring experts in energy policy, business strategy, finance, law and compliance, and a “boot camp” sustainability workshop. HGAR negotiated a 50% discount on the registration fee and multiple HGAR members were in attendance.
HGAR is now partnering with FIABCI and UN Habitat for a July 13 event at Fordham University. This event, “Sustainable Cities and Communities,”, is a parallel event to the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. More details will follow shortly.
HGAR recently applied for NAR’s $5,000 Sustainability Grant to help local associations plan and implement a sustainability program and encourage the ongoing awareness of sustainability in real estate.
It has been one of my initiatives as your 2023 President to ensure that HGAR remains in the vanguard when it comes to sustainability. This year our Committee on Sustainability will continue to help our members understand how sustainability issues affect you now, and will affect your business and industry in the future. Following NAR’s lead, HGAR will continue to advocate for policies that balance economic development with environmental protection, while focusing on how these issues affect housing, real estate and homeowners.
If you wish to be a part of that discussion, then join our Committee on Sustainability! Please contact myself or the HGAR staff to inquire!