“2009 is a  New Year”- This has been the phrase of the year for me so far.  Those who need to hear it welcome the words of encouragement.  Those who do not want to hear it make smart remarks in response to my positive outlook for 2009.  Funny thing is that it only got 1 day of news coverage so far.  I do think that it should still be making headlines.   It is the beginning of a revolution (not just one around the sun.)  There are many great things to look forward to and I am glad to be part of this positive movement.

Fortunately, I have found some like minded folk to join me this year.  I just got a e-newsletter today from our friends at the Ecobroker headquarters.  Their message was fairly optimistic especially as it pertains to green business.  The full article will be referenced below, but it says that the USGBC and other green entities are not seeing a slowdown during these economic times.

That is not what I am hearing from the mainstream media.  Correction- that is not what I hear as I quickly change the channels once the negativity starts to creep out of my TV.  (I do not see how any business owner, homeowner, or member of society can watch or read the news and still want to go to work or be motivated to do good or better.  I have seen bumper stickers that have read “Save a Life- Shoot you TV!”  I get it!  They were probably referring to brain numbing programming, however I see it as junk that is not contributing positively towards our current political and economic climate.  The only good news that I am hearing is in the green sector.)

What?  “Green is actually sustainable!”  I love the duality to that statement.  Basically, if you build a better house or building than you are still doing well when the market is not doing so well.  Some of my colleagues in the industry are asking me how we are doing.  I really feel guilty when I answer that we are doing ok given the tough economic times, especially when not all builders or renovators have work right now.  The fact is that people still need renovations and new houses, but now they are looking for either the cheapest price or the best quality.  We do not want to play the price game, so since we are willing to provide good quality at a fair price coupled with sustainable practices, our clients feel compelled to work with us.  I am not saying that it is easy for us, however I am willing to admit the fact that if we were not building green right now we would not have as much work.  We would not have as many employees.  Our clients would not be saving money on their energy bills.  Their houses would not be as comfortable.  You get the point.  There is no downside to a New Year.  Green is good.  2009 is going to be a great green year.

PS- let your friends know about this sustainable undercurrent that is not getting much press.  If that is too much for them to absorb- let them know that “2009 is a New Year.”  That message is universally accepted by most and frequently understood by a few.

Here is the original message that inspired this entry:

GREEN: A Recession-Proof Industry?

By Ryan Moehring

If you flip through any of the broadcast news channels or publications these days, you undoubtedly will be greeted with a barrage of headlines surrounding the current state of the U.S. economy. (For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, it’s not good.) Terms like “financial bailout,” “recession,” “inflation,” and “the worst financial crisis since the great depression,” do anything but conjure pleasant images in the minds of Americans and, unfortunately, they now dominate our daily news.

Yes, times are tough, and the constant media coverage seems to amplify the uncertainty we all feel, but are things really that bad for us as real estate professionals? I’m going to propose that there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. Fortunately for those who have earned the EcoBroker Certified® designation, the bright spot in this dark time is the enduring stability of green building.

A study released this summer by McGraw-Hill Construction and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) found that over the past three years more than 330,000 “market rate” homes with green features were built, making green building a $36 billion per year industry. Of that number of homes, an estimated 60,000 earned third-party property certifications through LEED or another certification program.

The study also surveyed existing owners of green-certified properties in an effort to gauge their attitudes about their homes. An overwhelming 83 percent of respondents stated that their new green home will lower operating costs. Seventy percent of those surveyed said that they would be “more” or “much more” inclined to buy a green home over a conventional home in a down market like the one we face today. The study also found that 78 percent of lower-income consumers (those who are most affected by a market downturn) would be more inclined to purchase a green home.

While these numbers paint an optimistic picture for green buildings, a cynic might point out that the findings were released before today’s economic meltdown had completely matured. Now that we more fully understand the gravity of our economic woes, is green building really as strong as this summer’s study reported? Or are LEED and other property ratings destined to go the way of the Starbucks® Venti Triple Mocha Latte—a luxury consumers might have to do without until the economy improves?

Michelle Moore, senior vice president for policy and public affairs at USGBC, doesn’t think so. “So far, we haven’t seen any slow down,” Moore said. “Our green buildings numbers are really strong, our membership numbers remain strong. In fact, we’re at record levels across the board, from registrations and certifications of projects to the number of people taking the LEED AP test. They’re all way up.”

At the Greenbuild conference in Boston this month, Nancy Floyd, founder of the clean tech venture capital firm Nth Power, echoed Moore’s sentiments. “The economic downturn will actually be good for this sector,” Floyd said, “because the market meltdown is accelerating innovation. There are opportunities now because builders and decision-makers have more time to consider new ideas. There also is more competition among builders; so some will differentiate by adopting green building products and practices.”

So, if more and more green buildings are being built, and consumers are increasingly satisfied with green buildings, the logical conclusion is Certified EcoBrokers® should have more opportunities to help facilitate these transactions. The fact of the matter remains that more green properties are being built every year, and the occupants of those buildings are increasingly satisfied with their purchase. Green building and remodeling is truly hitting critical mass, even in one of the most challenging economic times of our generation. Someone is getting hired to sell these properties, and it might as well be you. There clearly is no better time to increase your chances of success in the rapidly growing green market by becoming an EcoBroker®.