AUGUST 1, 2014 BY 

Reprinted from the Yampa Valley Voice, August 2014

Good for the buyer, even better for the seller: The Green MLS and the HERS Index
The Future of Real Estate

Would you ever buy a car without looking at the miles-per-gallon (MPG) or safety rating? Of course not! When you buy a car, you want to know it is safe and how much it will cost to operate. And yet, many people buy homes, an investment much larger than a car, without understanding all of the factors that affect the “safety’ of the home or looking at the home’s operating costs.  Over the last decade, new tools have been developed to help – the Green Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index. The Green MLS offers additional data entry fields to the traditional Real Estate listing that identify green building features and certifications. The HERS Index is the industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is measured and covers house type, orientation, house size, utility rates, climate and operation of the home. The HERS index is the dominant energy rating system in Colorado and is the rating system used for all of the data and tracking within the Colorado residential market. These tools will help a home buyer make smart decisions when buying a new home.

These tools are not just useful to the buyer but can really benefit a seller who has done the work to create a sustainably built, highly energy efficient home. Recent market data show that the housing market has changed and that people are buying high performing homes and willing to pay more for them.

Currently, it’s the sellers choice to list additional features for the Green MLS  (for example – whether the paint is Low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) or the hot water heater is new High Efficiency (HE) model), and it’s the buyers prerogative to ask. But more and more buyers are asking, and these two systems are becoming a standard in many regions across the country among the real estate market. In fact, according the the Green Resources Council, (, Steamboat Springs, CO is already listed as a Green Building “Example to Follow.”

But we’re not quite there, yet.  After seven years since its enactment, Steamboat’s Green Building Code is still voluntary and with the building market back on the rise, it’s time to bring awareness of the Green MLS, HERS Index, and other best Green Building Practices back to the forefront of this local market.

This September, YVSC is hosting a Green MLS and HERS Index workshop with Peter Rusin of the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) on September 17th from 1pm to 3pm at Centennial Hall. The two hour workshop is open to anyone, with critical information for real estate agents, appraisers, contractors, builders, utility program managers and community development organizations.

During the workshop, Rusin will provide  a background on the Green MLS and HERS Index. He will present information on how to use, interpret, and advertise Green MLS features and the HERS rating of a home. Rusin will also discuss the value of energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) and the difference between the two home features. And finally, the workshop will also briefly cover financing green building practices. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) energy efficient mortgage has been updated in the last two years and many people are still unaware of this excellent opportunity. The CEO has developed a mortgage incentive program to extend these benefits and bring awareness to the new program.

Learn more about Peter Rusin and RSVPing for this event here.