Eco-agent real estate professionals can provide solutions

In spring of 2005, representatives from the Asheville Board of Realtors, various nonprofit organizations and local colleges gathered to discuss sustainability and the impact of housing on the environment. Within a few months, this task force created a continuing education course that was approved by the NC Board of Realtors and established a course that is being examined for state and national certification for Realtors.

The Asheville Board of Realtors and its partners developed the eco-agent course for two reasons. First, as we enter the 21st century, it is clear that many of humankind’s actions are out of balance with the natural world. The continuation of the relatively high quality of life we enjoy and arguably humankind’s survival depend on changing how we relate to our environment. For many people, the decisions they make about buying a home or property will be among the most important decisions they make for the environment, for good or bad. The real estate agent serves not only as the broker for the transaction but also as a resource to parties in the transaction. We believe agents should provide access to information a client needs about environmental issues.

The Asheville Board of Realtors also recognizes that specialized knowledge is one way agents can distinguish themselves from their colleagues. Not all real estate agents or clients may be concerned about environmental issues. However, an agent has a duty to be informed about issues that can become material fact. And clients want to know that an agent is looking out for their best interests. An agent who is informed about environmental issues can help build trust between the client and the real estate profession. Eco-agents can help with issues about mold, radon and poor indoor air quality. They offer clients resources and can provide solutions to challenges.

To be certified as an eco-agent, the agent must complete 36 hours of training. The program is divided into core and elective courses. Core courses will be provided by the Asheville Board of Realtors. A continuing education course, “Environmental Issues: Resources/Healthy Choices,” is four hours. A two-day seminar is also required.

The elective portion of the program is being developed. Decisions about the suitability of a course will be made by the Asheville Board of Realtors. The WNC Green Building Council is creating a curriculum to provide elective courses to agents and the public.

The first 16-hour, core-curriculum seminar was held last fall. There are four certified eco-agents: Mary Love of The Gleason Team, Debra Marshall of Century 21, Ginny Lentz with Beverly-Hanks and Mary Ellen Brown with Keller-Williams. Check for updates about the course and eco-agents.

Mary Love is a real estate consultant who focuses on eco-development and HealthyBuilt Homes. She is a member of the WNC Green Building Council. She can be reached at 828-279-6723 or