Real Estate Investing Basics

Six Steps to Green Any Property

Expertise:
56 Articles Written

As an investor, you may be very interested in green but do not know how to start or how to audit potential properties from a green perspective. That said, here is a step-by-step approach to audit and green any investment property in the six major areas of any property.

Want more articles like this?

Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up for free

This is exactly what to use on a area-by-area basis to take any investment property and green it up.  This is an easy checklist to use for your contractors to use as well.

The Green Real Estate Checklist

LANDSCAPING

Check: Sprinkler-heads (age and manufacturer), weather sensors, drip systems.  Turn on all irrigation and notice over spray areas.

Action: Replace sprinkler-heads with water conserving sprinkler heads (Hunter MP Rotators are the best).  Add weather sensors and timers.  Check for rebates as in most areas of the S there are usually rebates on this equipment.

PAINT AND STAINS

Check: Interior, Exterior, Trims, Stains to see if they are no-VOC.  The easiest way to check is look at the labels on extra paint cans/stains (usually in the garage).

Action:  If they are not no-VOC then repaint/re-stain with no-VOC alternative.  All of the major paint companies make a no-VOC alternative.  I like Sherwin Williams ProMar 200 Zero VOC paint the best. For no-VOC stains check your local home goods store or GreenBuildingSupply.com

FLOORING

Check: Age and style of carpet.  95% you should replace any carpet you see.  Same thing with linoleum-unless it was put in a year ago replace it.

Action: Replace carpet with eco-friendly alternative such as Mohawk SmartStrand carpet made from recycled plastic bottles.  Feels great, off-gasses significantly less and costs about the same. Replace a typical carpet pad with a hypoallergenic soy carpet pad.

APPLIANCES

Check: Energy Star labels, age and manufacturer on the fridge, washer, dishwasher and dryer.

Action: If you can only replace a few appliances, do them in this order (to max out savings and market it accordingly): Fridge, Washer, Dishwasher.  The others are important but not as important as these.

LIGHTING

Check: All interior and exterior lights including garages, storage sheds and all automatic sensor lights. If you have fluorescent tube lights (usually in a kitchen) check the T level on the Tube.  It will say “T12” or “T10”

Action: Replace all incandescents with CFL’s (obvious) and replace all T-12’s or T-10’s with T8 or T5 (same light output, 70% savings).  For outdoor lighting, when possible use solar LED path lights.  They are inexpensive, charge during the day and come on at dusk.  We’ve used solar rock lights at our house for several years and love them.

WATER

Check: All facets, sinks and shower-heads for aerators.  Check water heater for exposed pipes and a water heater blanket. Check toilets for flow rate and notate any above 1.6GPM.

Action: Add aerators to all sinks, shower-heads and faucets.  Insulate exposed water heater pipes with foam tubing insulation.  Add a water heater blanket if you do not have one.  all of these items together shouldn’t cost more than $75.  These offer a tremendous ROI since you can save a ton of water and market it easily.

    DJO
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Replacing carpet and flooring before they have lived out their usefulness seems both expensive and seems to miss the point of “green” (using fewer resources ). Unless one is after hypo-allergenic (a different beast), green “branding” in order to sell to a particular clientele, or remodeling in order to get a LEEDS rating of some sort wouldn’t it be “greener” to replace flooring with eco-friendlyfloor and paint surfaces only as-needed? -D-
    DJO
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Replacing carpet and flooring before they have lived out their usefulness seems both expensive and seems to miss the point of “green” (using fewer resources ). Unless one is after hypo-allergenic (a different beast), green “branding” in order to sell to a particular clientele, or remodeling in order to get a LEEDS rating of some sort wouldn’t it be “greener” to replace flooring with eco-friendlyfloor and paint surfaces only as-needed? -D-
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    You raise a good point so I’m glad you asked. As a general rule, if a carpet is in ‘ok’ condition then I recommend to my clients that they just keep it in. However since most clients feel that they must put in new carpet and new paint on their rehabs, they usually are going to rip it out anyway so I recommend an eco-friendly alternative. When possible I’ll recommend down-cycling the carpet. For example, take it out of the living room and re-using it in the garage if it still is in decent shape. Thanks for the question..Jim
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    You raise a good point so I’m glad you asked. As a general rule, if a carpet is in ‘ok’ condition then I recommend to my clients that they just keep it in. However since most clients feel that they must put in new carpet and new paint on their rehabs, they usually are going to rip it out anyway so I recommend an eco-friendly alternative. When possible I’ll recommend down-cycling the carpet. For example, take it out of the living room and re-using it in the garage if it still is in decent shape. Thanks for the question..Jim
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    You raise a good point so I’m glad you asked. As a general rule, if a carpet is in ‘ok’ condition then I recommend to my clients that they just keep it in. However since most clients feel that they must put in new carpet and new paint on their rehabs, they usually are going to rip it out anyway so I recommend an eco-friendly alternative. When possible I’ll recommend down-cycling the carpet. For example, take it out of the living room and re-using it in the garage if it still is in decent shape. Thanks for the question..Jim
    Nancy
    Replied over 8 years ago
    I’m going to have to google VOC as regards paint as I’m not familiar with the acronym. We’re very green conscious here in Toronto with our real estate and this is a great checklist for greening up property. Reply Report comment
    Nancy
    Replied over 8 years ago
    I’m going to have to google VOC as regards paint as I’m not familiar with the acronym. We’re very green conscious here in Toronto with our real estate and this is a great checklist for greening up property.
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Hi Nancy, VOC’s are volatile organic compounds. Here’s a good definition for you: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html Thanks..Jim Reply Report comment
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Hi Nancy, VOC’s are volatile organic compounds. Here’s a good definition for you: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html Thanks..Jim
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Hi Nancy, VOC’s are volatile organic compounds. Here’s a good definition for you: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html Thanks..Jim Reply Report comment
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Hi Nancy, VOC’s are volatile organic compounds. Here’s a good definition for you: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html Thanks..Jim
    Judi Boad
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Hi Jim~ Going green on any home project can be a big selling feature, save money over time and can actually be cost effective to purchase. Bamboo flooring is beautiful and durable. It is a sustainable resource, brings a contemporary feel as well as incorporating nicely into a more traditional interior. Replacing outdated windows is another great way to conserve energy!
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Very good point, Judi! I completely agree with you.. Reply Report comment
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Very good point, Judi! I completely agree with you..
    Judi Boad
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Hi Jim~ Going green on any home project can be a big selling feature, save money over time and can actually be cost effective to purchase. Bamboo flooring is beautiful and durable. It is a sustainable resource, brings a contemporary feel as well as incorporating nicely into a more traditional interior. Replacing outdated windows is another great way to conserve energy!
    REIA of Oakland
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Very glad to see someone addressing the “green” aspect of real estate, as it’s a growing trend that all investors should begin to familiarize themselves with. I agree completely with Judi in the fact that saving money over time is a very attractive feature to buyers, and in today’s market it’s just going to become more and more desirable. Great article, thanks for sharing!
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Thanks for the compliment. You are one of the growing REIA’s who get the value of green. If you would, can you contact me offline? I’d like to discuss something that may be valuable for you and your group. I’m at [email protected] Thx. Reply Report comment
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Thanks for the compliment. You are one of the growing REIA’s who get the value of green. If you would, can you contact me offline? I’d like to discuss something that may be valuable for you and your group. I’m at [email protected] Thx. Reply Report comment
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Thanks for the compliment. You are one of the growing REIA’s who get the value of green. If you would, can you contact me offline? I’d like to discuss something that may be valuable for you and your group. I’m at [email protected] Thx.
    Jonathan Sparco
    Replied almost 8 years ago
    These are certainly interesting ways of keeping things green on your property. This is specifically true on adding insulating blanket on your water heating unit and its pipes to prevent any heat loss.