Friday, August 6, 2010

Top 10 Tips for Energy Savings

It is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options for green home renovations, especially the larger, more expensive ones. For a simpler approach to greening your home, improving your health, and saving energy and money, consider the following recommendations for quick, inexpensive retrofits that you can do yourself.

For more information on these and other energy-saving technologies, visit EcoBroker's Green Topic pages.

  1. Replace your incandescent bulbs with CFLs. - CFLs use about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and can last up to ten times as long. By replacing the five most commonly used bulbs in your home, you can save about $70 every year on energy costs. The more you replace, the more you save.

  2. Unplug appliances, chargers, and electronics you are not using. - Vampire power (also called phantom energy) is the energy used by electronics that are turned off. This can account for as much as 10% of your home energy use.

  3. Install a programmable thermostat. - Programmable thermostats are a great way to lower your energy bills by offering you pre-determined control over your homes heating and cooling schedule. Not only does this save on energy by altering temperature to energy-saving settings while you are away or sleeping, it does it automatically according to your set guidelines allowing you to save energy without even thinking about it.

  4. Save water - Put aerators on faucets and install a low-flow showerhead. - Aerators attach to your faucet to decrease the water flow while maintaining high pressures. Since faucets make up around 15% of a typical home’s indoor water use, decreasing the water flow on every faucet in your home can easily help save a significant amount of water. Low-flow showerheads essentially work the same way, minimizing the amount of water you use while running the shower.

  5. Recycle. - According to the National Recycling Coalition, the average American discards 7.5 lbs. of garbage every day! Recycling not only helps minimize this amount of waste being put into landfills, it helps minimize the use of natural resources and saves energy in manufacturing new products. And the best part is, it’s easy!

  6. Use eco-friendly cleaners. - In 2007, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reported that 15% of all asthma cases were caused by exposure to unsafe cleaning products. To avoid this and other negative effects, look for cleaners with the EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) label or the Green Seal.

  7. Fill air leaks with caulking or weather stripping. - Cracks around your windows and doors can be a major energy drain on your home as they decrease the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by allowing air to escape. To avoid this problem, apply caulk or weather stripping around windows and doors or other spaces where air may be leaking through.

  8. Plant a tree to shade your home. - Planting a six to eight foot deciduous tree with high spreading crowns on the south side of your home can help increase the efficiency of your air conditioner by up to 10% as areas surrounding shade trees typically see a 9 degree temperature reduction, with a 25 degree reduction in the direct shade of the tree. This can obviously yield tremendous energy savings by helping keep your home cool without the extensive use of fans or A/C. For best results, plant a tree to the south of your home for maximum summer shading.

  9. Insulate your hot water heater and furnace. - By putting a “blanket” of insulation around your hot water heater and furnace, you can reduce heat loss by 25-45%, reducing your energy bill by 4-9%. Some blankets come pre-cut and ready to wrap around your heater while others require cutting and forming to fit your specific model. These blankets are available at many home improvement stores or online.

  10. Replace your HVAC filters. - Energy Star recommends that you check your filters every month for excess debris that can restrict air flow and cause dust and dirt to enter your ventilation system and decrease your home’s indoor air quality. Filters should be replaced at least every three months or whenever they look dirty to avoid negative health effects and increase your HVAC’s efficiency.

Click here for more information on these and other energy-savings tips from EcoBroker International.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Foreclosure Life Raft (And How to Get Your Cast Away Business Back on the Mainland)

By Ryan Moehring

If you are reading this, congratulations are in order! You have managed to survive one of the worst housing crises in several generations—a crisis, many believe, is beginning to subside. If you are like most of your fellow survivors, you have likely managed to carry on by subsisting on an unwholesome diet of foreclosures, short sales and real estate owned properties (REOs).

I liken the situation to Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away. In the film, Hanks’ character, a Federal Express employee named Chuck Nolan, is stranded on a deserted island after his plane crashes while flying over the South Pacific. Chuck too, resigns himself to a less than ideal diet of crabs, fish, and coconuts.

Chuck remains on the island for more than four years, eventually becoming remarkably adept at spear fishing and other island survival skills. He even befriends a fellow crash survivor, a volleyball he affectionately names Wilson. Chuck grows accustomed to island life, eventually accepting the fact that he will never be rescued. However, of the few things he was able to salvage from the plane crash, one constantly reminds him of his home and his life—a single, undelivered FedEx package.

The metaphor is not sophisticated, but it is well-timed. Many of us who work in the green real estate industry have been side tracked over the past 2+ years just trying to keep our real estate businesses alive and profitable. Unfortunately, in order to do this, many have not been able to focus on green properties. Now that the market is turning around in many locations, it is time to focus once again on delivering our package—our goal to green the real estate industry.

This refocusing effort need not cause a 180° shift in your business plan. Just as Chuck didn’t transition from a sushi and coconut diet right into a Big Mac his first day back in the states, foreclosures and bank-owned properties will likely continue to be a part of your real estate “diet” for some time to come. The question is can you somehow combine your necessity and your ideology to make money and make a difference?

The port town of St. Lucie, Florida provides a hopeful example. The town, which has the 10th highest foreclosure rate in the country, received more than $13.5 million dollars in federal stimulus money to purchase some of its 10,000+ foreclosed properties. The Mayor of the town has decided to use some of the money to retrofit the homes to make them more energy efficient before putting them back on the market for purchase by low-to-mid income, first-time homebuyers.

The ingenious plan provides economic stimulus in at least three ways: 1) it takes bad notes off banks’ balance sheets, thereby contributing to the “thawing” process of the nearly arctic credit market; 2) it puts affordable housing within reach of thousands of new homebuyers, which ensures long-term economic activity in St. Lucie communities; 3) it creates jobs for the companies that provide insulation, windows, and other energy efficient building services.

All of this green activity embeds itself into the community, making green an integral part of the city’s identity, and laying the groundwork for even more green activity in the future. The last time I checked the city of St. Lucie still needs licensed real estate professionals to help them sell these retrofitted properties. I imagine that holding a green designation like EcoBroker® might make the difference between landing these listings and spear fishing for dinner. Your city is probably working on a similar program, and if not, they would likely entertain the idea if a motivated professional like you pitched it to them. There is a world of possibilities—what is needed is a shift back to our pre-Cast Away, aggressive mentality that we are going to transform the industry, no matter the obstacles.

I understand, really I do. You’ve been stranded on a 100 acre island for a couple of years. You’ve been exposed to the elements. You’ve had to hunt for your own food. You’ve survived in ways you never thought you’d have to. You will be forever changed by what has happened to you, and your industry will certainly never be the same. You’ve had complex discussions with volleyballs about the meaning of life, for goodness sake.

You will undoubtedly have to eat a coconut every once in a while just to keep your belly full, but you are back on the mainland. Houses are selling again. Life is good. And you have a package to deliver.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Property By Phone Partners with EcoBroker - Companies Form Ultimate Green Partnership

March 30, 2009 (Denver, CO)-AccessU2 Mobile Solutions, LLC, a pioneer in mobile marketing for real estate, and its patent pending product, Property By Phone, today announced it will partner with EcoBroker, the premier green designation for real estate professionals.

Property By Phone customers who sign up for the gold package service plan for 12 months receive EcoBroker® and Ecosociate™ designation enrollment for free-a $395 value. After the 12-month period, the customers receive the EcoBroker Property By Phone corporate rate. EcoBroker's current 5,000 members are eligible to receive the EcoBroker corporate rate for Property By Phone service effective immediately at

The partnership is a natural fit; EcoBroker's membership is comprised of thousands of tech-savvy real estate agents who are seeking environmentally sensitive options for their clients and for their own businesses. Property By Phone's paperless listing presentations cost less than brochures, are easier to maintain, and captures leads. Property By Phone provides a solution that is smart for both business and the environment-a custom fit for EcoBrokers® and Ecosociates™.

"Property By Phone brings cutting edge technological advancements affordably within reach of our members from coast to coast and internationally," commented EcoBroker CEO John Beldock, Ph.D. "Today's real estate professional derives tremendous benefit from the Property By Phone technology and platform. Our EcoBroker membership is really making a difference with consumers, communities, and the environment. EcoBrokers® and Ecosociates™ are redefining the quality of service the consumer has come to expect from any kind of real estate industry professional. Through our work with AccessU2, our membership is able to make even more of a difference. This economy and the environment need all the difference we can provide."

Property By Phone instructs the prospective buyer to call a toll-free number, and the property information, video, and photos are delivered by text message. The company's platform delivers the same type of experience to a buyer's cell phone that virtual tours have delivered to websites. The Realtor also receives an instant call capture text message and email as soon as the consumer receives the information. Using the Your Front Office service, consumers can also set an appointment directly on the listing agent's calendar. Realtors will never miss a lead or the opportunity to set a showing directly with that consumer.

Setting up service is simple; a Realtor subscribes to Property By Phone and receives a sign rider with a toll free number and a property code. When subscribing, the Realtor creates their property description and uploads their photos and can create virtual tour videos online. Realtors can also review and share the activity report with home sellers. Realtors are also connecting with buyers and increasing their listings with the use of Property By Phone. For more information, visit

"This is the ultimate green partnership, as we eliminate expensive, messy, time-consuming, and environmentally unfriendly brochure boxes forever," said Kenneth O'Hanlon President and CEO of AccessU2 Mobile Solutions, LLC. "EcoBroker has built a foundation of environmental education and outreach helping consumers and communities take advantage of energy efficiency and environmentally sensitive design in real estate properties."

About Property By Phone
In 2003, AccessU2 CEO Kenneth O'Hanlon began development of the code and process patents for Property By Phone. Along the way he quite literally pioneered the industry, working with cell phone aggregators and wireless providers in the U.S. and Canada and filing the patent pending process he created. Property By Phone is the only instant property information service that can communicate with the consumer in English, Spanish, or French; deliver photos and videos; and backed by 24-hour live operator assistance. The toll free number and property codes can be used in other marketing vehicles simply by adding them to advertisements, banners, billboards, or signage. For more information, visit

About EcoBroker
EcoBroker is the premier provider of green designation training for real estate professionals. Through its unique and award-winning energy and environmental curriculum, real estate professionals acquire the knowledge to become EcoBroker Certified and assist clients in their pursuit of greener homes. Certified members are known to consumers simply as EcoBrokers® and Ecosociates™. Since 2002, EcoBroker has grown to more than 5,000 members worldwide. For more information on EcoBroker International, visit or call 1-800-706-4321.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Daniel Island Mortgage Becomes the Nation's First myEnergyLoan Local Provider

Submitted by Michelle Salater • March 18, 2009

Responding to the growing demand for a sustainable, local economy in Charleston and all of South Carolina, Daniel Island Mortgage has become the nation's first myEnergyLoan local provider.

CHARLESTON, SC - March 17, 2009-Committed to providing a new green mortgage product that builds value in homes, saves clients money, and facilitates a healthier environment and sustainable economy, Daniel Island Mortgage announces it is the nation's first myEnergyLoan local provider.

Daniel Island Mortgage is leading the way for Charleston and all of South Carolina to shift from a carbon-based economy to a sustainable economy. Teaming up with myEnergyLoan, the nation's top green mortgage program, Daniel Island Mortgage is well positioned to be the market leader in green financing throughout South Carolina and the nation.

myEnergyLoan provides a simple and reliable way to get closing-cost discounts and lower interest rates for energy-efficient homes and buildings. Unlike traditional loans, which are limited in size and scope, myEnergyLoan works with all property types and all loan types, allowing it to serve a much larger segment of the real estate market. The greener the project, the larger the energy-credit rebate back to the consumer.

All property owners, who are increasingly interested in building or renovating using energy-efficient features, now have a mortgage product that recognizes and rewards them for going green. Homeowners who choose green typically capture tremendous savings through lower energy bills while adding value to their homes and lowering their environmental impact.

"One of the most important aspects that led me to partner with myEnergyLoan is that, at its core, it is truly committed to supporting sustainable financing and green real estate," says Gary Harwyn, president of Daniel Island Mortgage. "It has long-standing ties to some of the top green building programs in the country, such as the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED, EcoBroker, Energy Star, and EarthCraft. Not many financial institutions or builders can offer these types of green credentials, and this is what makes myEnergyLoan more genuine and authentic in the eyes of builders and consumers."

"Continuing with our sustainable mission, we also want to try to circulate dollars back through our local providers and businesses. Local dollars are said to circulate about six times more through the economy than if you did business with a large bank or store, where much of that money essentially gets exported," says Harwyn.

Daniel Island Mortgage has already received tremendous support from notable green builders and developers in the Charleston metro area. Hunley Waters, Battery Island Row, and Mixson, to name a few, have all added Daniel Island Mortgage as the preferred lender for their respective sustainable developments here in Charleston. Those developments alone represent over $400 million in projected sustainable developments in the Charleston market.

Daniel Island Mortgage is also fielding calls every day from green developers and homeowners all across the state interested in finding out more about green financing options. "We are very proud to help serve this green market while providing real value and green financial leadership in the South Carolina economy," adds Harwyn.

About Daniel Island Mortgage:
Daniel Island Mortgage is a SC licensed mortgage broker serving the Charleston market and all of South Carolina. Recognized for exceptional service and superior mortgage rates since 2004, Daniel Island Mortgage specializes in a full range of residential and commercial mortgage products and is proud to promote a triple bottom line focusing on profitability, the environment, and the community. Their experienced, licensed mortgage brokers stay up-to-date with the latest market conditions, trends, and available programs, bringing clients closer than ever before to experience the ultimate personal mortgage service at the local level.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009



(Evergreen, CO)—March 9, 2009 The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) announced today that EcoBroker International is a finalist for the 2009 NAHB National Green Building Awards.

The prestigious annual awards honor home builders, remodelers, home builders’ associations and other organizations for advancing green building through innovative design and construction techniques, excellent educational programs, and successful advocacy efforts.

EcoBroker was nominated in the Advocate of the Year category for education.

EcoBroker International is the premier provider of green designation training for real estate professionals. Founded in 2002, the company has built a solid foundation of environmental education and outreach, helping consumers and communities take advantage of energy efficiency and environmentally sensitive design in real estate properties.

Through EcoBroker's unique energy and environmental curriculum, real estate professionals acquire the knowledge and resources to become Certified EcoBrokers®. These real estate professionals assist clients in their pursuit of green properties that provide affordability, comfort and a healthier environment.

The awards are part of the NAHB National Green Building Program, NAHBGreen, which includes education, advocacy, marketing and certification services for green homes. Since NAHBGreen debuted in February 2008, it has certified homes across the country.

“Between 2006 and 2008, the number of award applications quadrupled. The tremendous growth of this program reflects the growth of green building practices all over the country,” said NAHB Green Building Subcommittee Chair Eric Borsting, a California home builder.

The awards will be presented at a gala dinner during the NAHB National Green Building Conference. The 11th annual conference is set for May 8-10 in Dallas.

About EcoBroker
EcoBroker is the premier provider of green designation training for real estate professionals. Through its unique and award-winning energy and environmental curriculum, real estate professionals acquire the knowledge to become EcoBroker Certified® and assist clients in their pursuit of greener homes. Certified members are known to consumers simply as EcoBrokers® and Ecosociates™. Since 2002, EcoBroker has grown to more than 5,000 members worldwide.

Contact Us
You can reach EcoBroker International at 1-800-706-4321, online at and by email at

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Home of your green dreams

Real estate agents get eco-friendly training, help buyers and sellers find ways to live sustainably
By Christian Toto
Special to The Denver Post

Highland resident Lindsey Kruger knows a thing or two about living green.

The 29-year-old works in sustainable interior design, but she still is grateful she turned to a real estate professional who specialized in environmental concerns before buying her home.

Today's real estate agents are boning up on how they can merge their real estate savvy with the latest green innovations. "EcoBrokers" or Realtors with a "Green Designation" can help homeowners tweak properties to attract environmentally focused buyers or even connect homebuyers with resources to make their new homes more environmentally friendly.

The EcoBroker Kruger chose, Brad Sandler of Green Door Living in Denver, "steered me to people who would do work on my house in a sustainable way," she said.

Kruger installed bamboo floors, the material is known for its rapid growth, and added enough insulation to shrink her energy bills dramatically.

Evergreen-based EcoBroker International started instructing real estate professionals in the latest environmental stewardship techniques in 2002.

Green mission
John Beldock, EcoBroker president and chief executive, said his group has since grown to more than 5,000 members worldwide.

Members must take three days of classes to complete their certification and then four additional hours each year to retain their status.

Part of the EcoBroker's mission is to make sure clients can afford to go green. Members advise buyers and sellers toward the latest rebates, grants and other monetary incentives, Beldock said.

Lara Williams, a Fort Collins-based EcoBroker, said EcoBrokers must get to know the different grants and program available in their own backyards, such as a Fort Collins program encouraging homeowners to trade in their old porcelain toilets for water-saving models. The toilets are recycled by a local nonprofit for no charge and crushed and combined into an aggregate used as road base.

Williams said local buyers and sellers often look to her to help reduce their carbon footprint. "Now, that's taking a back seat to the energy-efficiency side of it," she said.

Real estate agents can opt to study with the EcoBroker program or take classes with the National Association of Realtors. That group began offering its own Green Designation program last year, according to Kristen Short, managing director of business specialties for the trade group.

Realtors must complete 18 hours of training to gain the certification. The Green Resource Council confers the designation, Short said.

The designation helps Realtors understand what makes a property green, and they can inform clients of both the costs and benefits of green building features. Realtors with the green designation can also tap a network of peers, from contractors to homebuilders, who work with sustainable techniques.

"What does sustainability mean in real estate? Smart growth, new urbanism, a more focused look at green consumers," she said.

Steven Caplan, an EcoBroker and green builder based in Boulder, said the environmental real estate field experiences daily technological advances. That means even EcoBrokers must diligently follow industry trends and stay connected to green builders to be of the most service to their clients.

"The EcoBroker designation, it's just letters. It's about going ahead and taking it to the next level," Caplan said.

Retrofitting advice
Ken Deshaies, an EcoBroker and owner of SnowHome Properties in Silverthorne, said EcoBrokers don't necessarily point homebuyers to the homes of their green dreams. To do so would reduce the number of available homes by a drastic number, Deshaies said.

Instead, they meet the homebuyer halfway, showing them homes that have potential to be upgraded in an environmentally friendly fashion. The same holds true for the sellers.

"I advise sellers how they can green their houses a little bit and showcase the green amenities already in the home," he said.

Sandler said he tries to tell his clients about not just the major renovations needed to go green but the subtle changes to defray energy costs.

He advises installing programmable thermostats, swapping out shower heads for low-flow models and being aware of phantom loads — the energy lost by having electronics and other appliances plugged in around the clock.

His best tip often involves taking an existing home and retrofitting it for maximum green impact. Older homes, with their thick walls and secure structures, offer a pretty good start for would-be retrofitters, he said.

Kruger has a few tips of her own for those seeking out an EcoBroker or green designated Realtor.
"Come up with a few questions to test how knowledgeable they are . . . and make sure they're really good real estate agents," she said.

All the green knowledge in the world won't matter, she said, if they don't intimately know the neighborhoods in question.

Monday, February 9, 2009

EcoBroker Announces Alliance with Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) to Benefit Consumers

The Association of Energy and Environmental Real Estate Professionals ( and EcoBroker International (, proudly announce a partnership with the Residential Energy Service Network (RESNET). The partnership links AEEREP’s and EcoBroker’s real estate professional members to the industry’s most trusted source of energy raters, further helping consumers evaluate and make energy improvements to their homes in the face of mounting energy costs.

“With renewed interest in residential energy efficiency driven by consumer demand for economy, comfort, environmental sensitivity and performance, now is a perfect time to create this consumer-focused partnership,” said EcoBroker CEO Dr. John Beldock. “EcoBroker and RESNET share a mission to improve energy efficiency and the environment, and both organizations offer consumers the experts they need to assist them in achieving these goals.”

This partnership enriches the competitive offerings of both memberships, introducing even more of EcoBroker’s real estate members to the innovative energy rating programs used to help consumers evaluate and make energy-efficiency improvements to their homes and qualify for the financing to pay for the upgrades. RESNET members gain access to new business opportunities and a strong referral network. EcoBroker educates its membership on the key benefits of RESNET through its core curriculum, web site and newsletters.

“As an industry leader in energy efficiency, we are proud to partner with EcoBroker who has done so much work to educate real estate professionals on this important topic,” said RESNET Executive Director Steve Baden. “We believe our memberships and the consumer will benefit greatly from this alliance.”

EcoBroker is the first and largest provider of green real estate training for real estate professionals. Through their unique and award-winning energy and environmental curriculum, real estate professionals acquire the knowledge to become a Certified EcoBroker® then assist clients in their pursuit of greener homes. Since 2002, EcoBroker has grown to 5,000 members across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, and New Zealand.

In 1995, representatives of the national mortgage industry, the National Association of State Energy Officials and Energy Rated Homes of America founded RESNET to develop national standards for home energy rating systems and energy-efficient mortgages. In 2002, RESNET became a nonprofit and is guided by a board of directors.

Contact Us

You can reach EcoBroker International at 1-800-706-4321, online at


EcoBroker is the premier provider of green designation training for real estate professionals. Founded in 2002, the company has built a solid foundation of environmental education and outreach helping consumers and communities take advantage of energy efficiency and environmentally sensitive design in real estate properties. Through EcoBroker’s unique energy and environmental curriculum, real estate professionals acquire the knowledge and resources to become Certified EcoBrokers®. These real estate professionals assist clients in their pursuit of properties that provide affordability, comfort and a healthier environment, all the while reducing carbon footprints. EcoBroker has thousands of members in all 50 states and internationally.


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