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Energy Efficiency

Minnesota homebuyers can now search for home efficiency and green building information

row of houses with power linesWhen you’re looking for a new home, it’s easy to find out how many bathrooms a house has or whether it has a finished basement. But what if you want to find out how efficient it is, or only want to look at homes that are green-certified? In the past, this hasn’t been an option with any of Minnesota’s Multiple Listing Services (MLS)—the tool most realtors and many prospective homebuyers use to narrow down their choices.

This month, Minnesota became one of the first states in the Midwest that helps homebuyers find a green-certified or energy-efficient home. The NorthStarMLS, a listing service for homes in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, added two new searchable fields to its home listings—green building certification and a home energy efficiency rating. Other states with similar provisions include Washington, Illinois, Nebraska, Arizona, Colorado, and Florida.

The green building certification field will note whether a home has met third-party green building standards set by an array of organizations, including LEED for Homes, EnergyStar, Minnesota GreenStar, Minnesota Green Communities, Minnesota Green Path, and Wisconsin Green Built Home. In order for a home to be listed as green certified, the appropriate documentation will be required.

The home energy efficiency rating field will list a home’s Home Energy Ratings System, or HERS score. A HERS score measures a home’s energy efficiency by evaluating windows and doors, vents and ductwork, the home’s heating and cooling systems, and more. While the details of the HERS system might seem complicated, homebuyers should know that the lower the score, the more efficient the home.

The impact of these new MLS fields extends beyond a homebuyer’s ability to search for green features and plan for lower utility bills. As more green and energy-efficient homes are listed on the MLS, awareness and demand for energy efficiency increases as well, raising the market value of homes that are energy- and resource-efficient and healthier for homebuyers. Additionally, homeowners will be more likely to make efficiency improvements to their homes if they see it reflected in the home’s resale value (which is currently not the case in Minnesota). This will gradually increase the efficiency of Minnesota’s housing stock, saving consumers money and cutting carbon pollution across the state.

The addition of these two new fields to the NorthStarMLS is the result of a long-time effort of green building advocates in Minnesota. Fresh Energy applauds the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, which ultimately brought the effort over the finish line. Steps are underway to increase opportunities for existing homes (such as blower-door testing for home leakiness) and to include green certification and efficiency fields to other real estate listing services in Minnesota.

When you’re looking for a new home, it’s easy to find out how many bathrooms a house has or whether it has a finished basement. But what if you want to find out how efficient it is, or only want to look at homes that are green-certified? For the first time, Minnesota homebuyers can now search the MLS for energy-efficient and green-certified homes.

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