The practice is called “greenwashing” and home shoppers need to be on guard: It means a house is being marketed as environmentally friendly and energy-saving when it doesn’t really deserve that description.
Greenwashing is a growing issue in real estate as multiple studies demonstrate that consumers are attracted to — and will often pay premiums for — homes that are highly efficient in saving on utilities bills.
Just about everybody likes the concept of green, and builders and real estate agents increasingly use the term as a sales come-on. But experts say too often what’s marketed as green isn’t what it purports to be when you take a close look.
Sandra Adomatis, an appraiser in Punta Gorda, Fla., who is nationally known for her expertise in valuing green properties, says “look in the MLS (multiple listing service) and you’ll see lots of homes listed as having green features,” but it may mean as little as “somebody put in some LED light bulbs or a couple of Energy Star appliances in the kitchen.”
In an interview, Adomatis described one listing she saw recently on a home built in 1959. It indicated that the house had a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score of zero — signifying net zero energy use. (The HERS index measures a home’s energy efficiency and requires testing of the home’s performance by a certified HERS rater. The lower the score the better.)