Home Innovation Insights

Green MLS Implementation Guide will help everyone better realize the value of green home features.

Increasing Green Home Interoperability

May 6, 2014

In my previous work with county-level officials, I was introduced to the idea of "interoperability" and its crucial importance for mitigating and responding to emergency events. In some communities, local emergency responders may not have communications platforms that can interact across teams; each of the different responder types (law enforcement, medical, fire, traffic control, etc.) would LITERALLY be speaking on different radio frequencies. As you can imagine, response efforts suffer when the responders are unable to speak with their teammates.

In my position as manager of green building programs here at Home Innovation Labs, I've come to realize that an interoperability issue exists with regard to green home valuation. Across the real estate transaction process, various users (builder, appraiser, real estate agent, etc.) are obtaining and utilizing green home data for their own purposes, but that information is not necessarily translatable to other users. To ensure that green home features are recognized throughout the real estate transaction, it’s important that all types of industry leaders are sharing data and “speaking” in the same terms.

Third-party certifications, like NGBS Green, offer a reliable and consistent definition for “green” in the marketplace. However, if green home information is not incorporated into the real estate listing in a useable way, the broader value of third-party certification may be unrealized. The green home information may not be recognized by green-minded homebuyers or considered during the appraisal and underwriting processes. These gaps in the communication process can negatively impact everyone involved.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the Green MLS Implementation Guide v1.0. The first of its kind, this guide was developed with cooperation from diverse partners and is designed to serve as a blueprint for MLS staff and software vendors to implement green MLS fields that are compliant with industry standards – the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) and Data Dictionary.

The Guide’s recommendations reflect current “high-performance” features, technology, and construction methods. Most fields represent certifications and labels that are third-party verifiable in an attempt to protect data providers from liability. For example, in terms of green certifications, the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) is recognized alongside other nationally-available certification platforms, including LEED, Energy Star, WaterSense, and others.

Not sure if your region’s MLS has incorporated green fields or recognized NGBS Green certification specifically? Reach out to your local MLS for more information and share the Implementation Guide to start a conversation about green home valuation.

Beyond MLS, listing services and data syndicators are demonstrating leadership by implementing IT solutions to close the green home data gap. Online home improvement network Porch.com has collected detailed home improvement histories for over 90 million homes. Porch recently announced integration with data-syndicator Realtor.com. Property listings on the Realtor website now feature downloadable Home & Neighborhood reports, with information pulling from Porch. Given Home Innovation’s relationship with Porch, I’m excited about the added visibility of NGBS Green Certification information and recognition of NGBS Green Partners.

This model “flips the script” by taking data collection/sharing responsibility from real estate agents and replaces it with a seamless auto-populate functionality. Potential homebuyers leave equipped with all publicly-available information about properties so they can make a much more informed decision. Everyone starts speaking on the same frequency.

Every now and then I run into a builder who insists that consumers don’t care about green homes. They'll insist, “It’s granite countertops, by darn, that consumers want.” Respectfully, I disagree. Instead, I believe that the real estate industry has suffered through a communications breakdown where we have not been able to effectively communicate or measure for consumers the value of green features. The new Green MLS Implementation Guide will help build an effective platform that allows homebuyers to better locate homes with green features, and builders and realtors to better calculate the value of those homes.