Real Estate is Going Green: An Interview with John Opperman, Avenue 8 Agent and Head of the Earth Day Initiative

John Opperman, who recently joined Avenue 8’s NYC agent team, happens to be the Executive Director of the Earth Day Initiative and an expert on green real estate. For Earth Day, we thought we’d ask him a few questions about how we should be thinking about on this important occasion.

You're a real estate agent, as well as the Executive Director of the Earth Day Initiative. How do those two roles connect?

With both Earth Day Initiative and my real estate work, my goal is really to amplify the sustainability conversation. I focus my real estate brokerage practice on connecting buyers and sellers in the sustainable and healthy home space and amplifying the dozens of benefits of owning and living in a green home.

We hear a lot about green buildings, but not as much about green real estate. What does "green real estate" mean to you?

This is a whole segment of the market that should be talked about more. What those in the industry call "high-performance" buildings are a valuable asset group that should be valued according to their numerous beneficial characteristics including energy efficiency, healthier living spaces, and more resilient systems.

Where do you think green real estate is going? Whether it's technology that makes homes more efficient, or changing priorities in what buyers want in a home, what are you most excited about?

There are a few trends in sustainable real estate that I see on the horizon. The first trend is a bigger focus on energy efficiency. With unstable energy supplies and increase in energy efficiency regulation, homes that require less energy to operate are increasingly attractive. The second trend I see is more interest in resiliency. People witness the extreme weather events connected to climate change and start to think more about how their home will hold up through unpredictable times. The third trend is an increased focus on wellness at home, particularly concerning air quality. More sustainable and healthier homes are a safer environment for you and your family.

Finally, Earth Day is a moment where a lot of people commit to making changes in the way they live. What do you think are the simplest, most effective ways that people in our world — agents, buyers, homeowners — can improve their ecological footprints and practices?

One low-hanging fruit people can pursue is supporting renewable energy, whether that means installing solar panels on your home or joining a community solar project. But I also tell people that, whatever you're doing, talk about it. If you are looking for more sustainable options, ask your broker about it. If you care about divesting from fossil fuels, talk to your mortgage rep about their banks' policies. Talking more about what we care about sends a message to business and government that there is real demand for climate action.

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