Industry Pioneer Beth Johnson Continues the Green Fight

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Keller Williams Realtor Beth Johnson (far right) helped bring the “green home” market to North Texas. Recently she spoke about the innovations and disruptions environmentally-friendly building has brought to the industry at a panel hosted by the Dallas Builders Association.

Beth Johnson has been championing environmental causes for decades. The Keller Williams agent was the first Realtor in the nation to achieve the green “Quadruple Crown.” She’s been certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), EcoBroker, NAR Green, and Certified Green Professionals.

In layman’s terms, that means she’s been trained and certified by the country’s major green accreditation programs, and knows a thing or two about building an eco-friendly home.

Before starting her real estate career in 2005, Johnson spent nearly three decades working in environmental advocacy for area nonprofits. During that time, she lobbied for clean air, clean water, and wilderness protection. When it came time to build her own custom home, she wanted to make it as green as possible.

However, she soon discovered that Realtors in the field literally didn’t know what she was talking about. She began to think that maybe there was a business model there. People like her needed someone who understood the issues and could match environmentally inclined buyers and sellers together.

“In the early 2000s I could see that green buyers were there,” Johnson recalled. “There were also custom builders trying to be green, but they couldn’t seem to find each other, and often didn’t know how to communicate with each other. It’s like they were talking different languages.”

Today nearly half of Johnson’s business involves properties that include at least some green features. Many of her clients share a similar passion for protecting the planet and want to work with an agent who shares similar beliefs.

According to Johnson, it’s not just green-minded people who should be seeking out these features. Energy efficient homes also lower utility bills and come with lower maintenance costs.

“I think a lot of people have recognized that we don’t need to have the utility bills that our parents and grandparents had,” she said. “It’s just an antiquated notion that you have to pay that kind of money on a house the performs poorly, not to mention the air quality that goes along with that.”

Oddly enough, she credits government regulators for mandating code change that improved energy efficiencies in homes. As consumers become more conscious of green construction, many homebuilders and sellers have begun to tout that their properties now exceed government standards. While obviously excited about this development, Johnson cautions against those who say they meet a particular standard but aren’t officially certified because they “didn’t want to pay for the label.”

“The best inherent value for these certifications are the inspections,” she said. “If you aren’t getting those you’re not getting a lot of the benefits. Many things are subtle intricate parts of different stages of construction that you can’t easily retrofit.”

Johnson regularly researches the local MLS for green homes.At any given time there are around 2,000 homes for sale in MLS that have green certification. Approximately 25 percent of MLS-listed new construction single-family homes for sale are coded as having at least one green building certification. Additionally 14% of MLS-listed pre-owned single-family homes for sale that were built since 2008 are coded as having at least one green building certification.Buyers should keep that in mind when thinking of their home’s future resale value because tomorrow’s consumers are likely to demand even more.

“Don’t just buy for the future, but remember the benefits to you when you live there: lower bills, better indoor air quality, and a home that works right with systems that are not at odds with each other,” Johnson said. “People have plenty to choose from in this market.”