Six Steps to Green Any Property

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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.

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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

About Author

I help real estate investors increase profits and property values through a variety of green strategies. I help clients find hidden rebates, tax incentives and credits to maximize returns on any property.


  1. 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?


    • 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

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