Definition of "What is Greenwashing?"

Amy  Parmelee real estate agent

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Amy Parmeleeelite badge icon

Keuka Lake & Land Realty

Undoubtedly, the 21st century has turned increasingly eco-conscious. Nowadays, many consumers prefer purchasing green and environmentally-friendly products even at a higher price. 

A genuine and well-intentioned trend with catchy buzzwords took us over. You can choose eco-conscious TVs, and you can show off with an environmentally-conscious design on a budget to your friends. Did we suggest that you can also present them with eco-friendly gifts?

Companies exploiting consumers’ care for the environment

Business enterprises use trendy slogans and good faith to achieve higher profit margins. Yet, these labels do not cover reality. Unfortunately, such phony companies saw an unprecedented business opportunity in marketing and distributing such products, which only claim to be green.  

Whitewashing sells a misleading fantasy.

What is the meaning of greenwashing? The term greenwashing defines a process of presenting a false impression and, ultimately, information about how specific goods or services are environmentally-friendly. You may also encounter products that proudly offer themselves as energy-saving and or prepared based on recycled materials.  

However, these affirmations prove unsupported by scientific facts upon closer inspection. Mischievous companies deceive gullible consumers and undermine the honest reputation of those businesses that do produce green products. Therefore, specialists deem the practice of greenwashing ethically questionable.  

Greenwashing in real estate

We should draw attention to the greenwashing scam that has taken the real estate market by storm. Eco-friendly property portfolios became a priority for the next generation of house-hunters. Besides, they chose their motto ESG, meaning environmental, sustainability, governance. However, new real estate investors often bump into homes that agents market as green, yet they are anything but. Inexperienced home buyers are liable to become victims of real estate greenwashing.

How will real estate greenwashers try to convince you?

There are slight chances that house-hunters may bump into greenwashers working in the housing market. On the one hand, architects and construction workers can erroneously claim that they’ve built a green building. On the other hand, realtors can wrongly state the heightened sustainability of “smart” real estate. 

These agents designed their marketing strategy, presuming that customers don’t clearly understand green technology; thus take every word for granted. The gimmick will convince you that the building will save you energy and money by, sometimes, featuring only a couple of LED bulbs and some other fancy appliances. Consequently, you’ll end up investing in a house that, by government standards, fails to be eco-conscious. 

Nonetheless, housing agents might not happen to know the so-called Home Energy Rating System (HERS) defining green standards. The system tests a property’s energy performance on an index. The lower the figure goes, the more energy your home saves. Besides, it can reveal construction imperfections, insufficient equipment installation, and poor insulation.

To which property aspects do they apply greenwashing?

Properties claiming to enjoy the advantages of having a low carbon footprint, energy- and water sufficiency don’t always correspond with reality. And these false ads often conceal an even more horrific truth. 

Greenwashing pretends to use eco sound building materials. However, they might have employed harmful ones instead. Some real estate sellers might wish to hide that they built their house with red-zone toxic building materials. For instance, one could trace wood treatments, asbestos, halogenated flame retardants, etc., in their foundation and walls. These materials discharge poisons and can affect the flooring, insulation, paints, lighting, and wiring. 

Luckily, MLS listings today accurately describe whether an available home is certified eco-conscious or not, using such programs as Built Green or Energy Star. Thus, parties involved in a property transaction can efficiently pick up a fight against greenwashing.

Methods to combat falling victim to greenwashing

First and foremost, falsely marketed properties won’t trick you with the assistance of these genuine local real estate agents and professional home inspectors! 

Secondly, homes are often subject to performance tests. Investigating the results of these tests can, by all means, serve your best interests! You can also hire a private performance-testing entrepreneur or general contractor to double-check the house’s alleged green building materials, air quality, energy efficiency (applied to air conditioning and lighting), low emittance windows, water-preserving appliances, proper thermal insulation, etc. Besides, you can examine whether they supplied building materials from sustainable forests. 

Thus, homebuyers can decide upon the validity of the property’s fortes, assess problematic areas, and deliberate on doable solutions.

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