Eco Brokers that Truly Care About the Environment: Arbour Realty

Posted on January 4, 2010. Filed under: green business, green operations, green services, living green |

Happy 2010! It’s a new year, a new decade and we’ve got more green stories to share with you, including those from our clients about what they are doing to be green.

In our first client feature of 2010, we talk to Arbour Realty about their green efforts and how working with an environmental consultant can help even when you’ve already taken steps to green your operation. While we are proud of all of our clients’ green efforts, we are particularly excited about Arbour Realty’s commitment to green at every level. Not only do they help people buy and sell homes with green features, they take time to educate them about green renovations and green living practices that are good for the planet and their often their pocketbook. Arbour Realty has also shown their environmental commitment through every level of their business operation, from designing their Virginia office with green materials to eliminating huge amounts of paper waste typical of most real estate agencies, to even offering energy audits and eco-home assessments to their home buyers.

Learn more about their green efforts in Sonia’s interview with Adam Gallegos, green visionary and principal of Arbour Realty.

interview by Sonia Heiles

Green Living Consulting: What does “green” mean to you?

Arbour Realty: Green means living healthier, conserving our natural resources and leaving a lighter footprint on our planet.

GLC: What was your biggest motivation in wanting to get your business green?

AR: We wanted to do more than run a business.  We wanted to set an example that would inspire positive change. 

GLC: Why did you choose GLC to assist in your green endeavors?

AR: We want to align ourselves with companies that truly believe in the benefits of green.  From day one, GLC has shown their commitment to us and to the green movement. 

GLC: What have you done to date since your initial GLC assessment?

AR: We have already implemented over a dozen suggestions from GLC.  A few of my favorites:

1) placards around the office explaining the green features and benefits.

2) an overview of our green commitment that we now include on our website and in our brochure.

3) the addition of live plants around the office.

4) an XLerator hand dryer that has eliminated the use of paper towels in our office.

GLC: What was the biggest challenge in greening your business?

AR: We knew from the beginning we did not want to be a green shell trying to prosper from people wanting to live more green.  It was important that we find ways to “walk the talk” in ways that truly make a difference to the planet, our community and our clients. 

GLC: What role did GLC play in greening your operations?

AR: We hit a ceiling with what we were able to come up with on our own.  GLC brought new energy and new ideas.  They really helped us take our green business initiatives to the next level.  We have also implemented a program to offer Green Living Consultations to our home buyers.  We have found this to be a great way to spread the excitement of green living.

GLC: What level GLC rating do you currently have? Do you hope to receive a higher rating in the near future?

AR: Gold. We would love to step it up and reach the next level.  Our next project is lighting.  We would like to transition our office to all LED lighting.  This along with some smaller projects should get us to the next level. 

GLC: Have you been successful in creating a culture of green with your staff?

AR: We have been lucky in attracting people to Arbour Realty that really embrace the benefits of green living.  It’s great to have our staff contributing ideas and volunteering time.  

GLC: How have you tracked your eco-practices progress since their initiation?

AR: I can’t say that we have done a great job of this.  GLC really helped us take an inventory of what we are doing green.  That was a big help for our own piece of mind and what we are communicating to the public. 

GLC: What have been the most effective eco-practices?

AR: The process of writing contracts for home sales can be extremely wasteful.  Lots of printing and faxing going back and forth.  There is typically a lot of driving involved as well.  We implemented a new technology that allows us to use electronic signatures, virtually eliminating the need to ever print a contract or addenda.  It also eliminates the driving around needed to get signatures.  We save more than a ream of paper a week with e-signatures. 

GLC: How have you communicated your green efforts to the public?

AR: We have added our green efforts to most of our communication materials so that the public understand what we are doing differently that the other real estate companies out there.  So far we have gotten a great reaction.  Just this year we have won two prominent awards for best green business. 

GLC: What have the most visible benefits of going green been for your business? Lowered operating costs? Increased sales as a result of your green efforts? Something else?  

AR: There are over 10,000 real estate agents in the DC area.  We are happy to not be just another one out there telling everyone that we are the best.  Operating as a green real estate company really helps people understand at least one aspect of what makes us different and opens the door for them to learn all the other reasons we are a great choice for their real estate needs. 

GLC: If money wasn’t an issue, what other green actions would you consider implementing?

AR: LEED certification of our office.  We would love to go for a LEED rating.  The only thing that has held us back is cost. 

Thank you Arbour Realty for your continued green efforts. We look forward to working with you achieve a Platinum green business rating, educating homeowners, and making the DC area a greener, healthier place to live!

Stayed tuned for our next client feature: Brooksfield School

be well. live green.

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