Latest Posts

  1. Custom Energy and Water Services for Your Building

    Leave a Comment

    Building Consulting ServicesAre you motivated or required to meet “green” standards for your property? Do you want to better understand how your properties perform in order to set investment priorities?

    You’re not alone, and that’s a good thing! As part of our mission of smarter energy use for all, we know that when building owners and managers invest in energy and water efficiency solutions, the measures save money, reduce energy use, and preserve affordable and healthy housing for families. But it’s not always clear how or where to start. This is why we’re proud to offer a full suite of customizable energy and water efficiency services to support your single property or entire portfolio. Check out some of our services below, but, because we customize every engagement, the best way to get started is to reach out and tell us more about your unique needs.

    Predevelopment: The Earlier the Better

    We can help you at the earliest stages of project planning to develop the best strategies to meet your goals, timeline, and budget. You’ll reduce the need for later changes and maximize your long-term benefits. Just some of our services include:

    • Rehab energy and water assessment
    • Renewables or certification feasibility
    • Design charrette facilitation

    Building Consulting Services

    Seamlessly Navigate Green Development

    The building design and development process is complex and fast-moving. We get it. And when you factor in green measures, it gets even more complicated. Our building services will help you manage and implement the right energy and water efficiency systems, from design to construction. Some ways we can help you include:

    • Design-spec review
    • Green certification project management
    • Energy modeling
    • Commissioning

    Improve Building Performance for Comfort and Efficiency

    Operating and maintaining properties for water and energy efficiency is critical to the long-term fitness of your property. It also leads to happier, more comfortable occupants and lower turnover. We can help you create healthier homes and reduce your long-term costs through a variety of services, including:

    • Benchmarking (portfolio services, ordinance compliance, and ENERGY STAR® certification)
    • Energy and water assessments
    • Quality inspections
    • Financing and utility rebate support

    We’re Not Salespeople

    We’ve improved the performance of more than 35,000 units over the last decade. In other words, this is what we know and do. With Elevate Energy, you’ll work with trusted building experts to meet your goals, not salespeople.

    Learn more today! Download a brochure, fill out a form or get in touch with us at or 773-269-4037.

     

  2. FEJA Takes Root with SmartFlower™ Solar System in Chicago’s Bronzeville

    Leave a Comment

    FEJA Solar Bronzeville

    First, we celebrated the 2016 passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), the most significant and comprehensive energy bill passed by the Illinois legislature. Today, we celebrate one of the first solar systems that will be installed in the state under FEJA; it’s also a great example of the Citi Foundation’s Community Progress Makers in action.

    On a beautiful day in mid-June, we visited the Bronzeville area of Chicago to demonstrate the technology behind a SmartFlower™, an innovative “all-in-one” solar system designed to make it easy to produce clean energy at homes or businesses. Alongside our partners, community members, and local media, we discussed how we can come together to bring the benefits of solar energy and educational opportunities to this and other communities.

    A special public-private partnership was a key part of the day in Bronzeville. We worked alongside Mohawk Group, a producer and distributor of commercial flooring; Groundswell, a nonprofit organization with a focus on community solar projects; and The Renaissance Collaborative (TRC), a community development corporation in Bronzeville. For nearly 30 years, TRC has served its community and promoted self-sufficiency through housing, employment, and educational services.

    FEJA Solar BronzevilleAs part of Mohawk Group’s sustainability efforts, it plans to install a total of ten SmartFlowers at nonprofit organizations across the country to bring sustainable energy into communities. The placement at TRC in Chicago was the first. Other partners who supported the effort in Bronzeville included Millennium Solar and SunCatch Energy.

    We were also joined by students enrolled in a solar training program that was initiated under FEJA and with the support of ComEd to bring job opportunities related to solar to the neighborhood. The training program is part of our Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator, a pipeline initiative to train individuals for employment in the clean energy economy, focusing on those from priority groups, including people who have graduated out of the Illinois foster care system, returning individuals from incarceration or people with a criminal record, and minority or low-income communities that are disproportionately impacted by FEJA Solar Bronzevilleenvironmental hazards.

    “With partners and supporters, we are driven by an ambitious but achievable goal to bring energy cost savings and clean energy jobs to underserved communities,” said Anne Evens, CEO of Elevate Energy. “Together, we can mitigate the climate crisis and improve the economic health of our communities.”

    To us, it was a monumental day as it shows that FEJA is working. It’s also clear evidence that a wide range of people and partners are committed to taking important steps toward our state’s clean energy future.

    Deborah Stone, Chief Sustainability Officer at Cook County, joined us in Bronzeville. “At Cook County, we believe solar is for everybody,” Stone said.

    And this is just the start. With the generous support of the Citi Foundation’s Community Progress Makers grant, we’ll continue our efforts to transform underserved communities through job creation, healthy and affordable housing, and wealth-building sources of clean energy. Follow the transformation at #FEJA and #ProgressMakers.

     

     

  3. Get Real Estate CE Credits, Boost Your Business, and Support Renewable Energy

    Leave a Comment

    Real Estate CEA lot has been happening at the intersection of residential energy efficiency and real estate. Much of this recent activity is focused on residential solar photovoltaic (PV) installations.

    The number of households with these systems in the U.S. is growing, now at over one million. By 2020, this number is expected to reach four million. Yet, for many real estate professionals, solar remains a new frontier.

    In an effort to close the knowledge gap, Elevate Energy, with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, launched an online course, Selling the Sun: Establishing Value for Solar Homes, to help real estate professionals understand and value solar PV systems.

    Just Announced: Continuing Education Credits Available for Some States

    For our real estate readers out there, we know that you likely need continuing education (CE) credits to maintain your license in your state. Why not select a course that gives you three credits and a serious market edge at the same time?

    CE credit for Selling the Sun is now available in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, and Virginia. Agents who complete the three-hour course will be able to communicate the value of solar installations to homeowners, homebuyers, and appraisers. They’ll also know what questions to ask, how solar PV installations affect the sale of a home, and how to identify installations on a multiple listing service.

    There’s a clear environmental impact, too. Once solar PV installations are consistently and accurately valued and investment increases, so too will growth of clean energy nationwide—something we’re particularly excited about at Elevate Energy.

    To celebrate the launch of CE credits, we’re offering a 15% discount off the total cost ($39) of the course for those that register by June 30. Use the code: ELEVATE05252018

    Real Estate CE

    How the Course Helped REALTORS Get Solar Smart

    In an earlier post, we shared a story from Michael Brannon, a REALTOR® at Coldwell Banker Bain in the state of Washington. Michael was compelled to take the course because he believes we can reduce our impact on the earth. “I want to be a part of promoting alternative energy sources,” he said. Turns out, it’s helping his business at the same time.

    “Your eyesight focuses on what your mind’s eye is focused on, like when you’re shopping for a particular type of car and then all of a sudden you see that model everywhere,” Michael said. “Well, now I see so many houses that have solar panel installations, whereas before they didn’t seem to register.”

    Alexis Brausa, a National Association of REALTORS® Green Designee in Texas, sought enhanced training to effectively convey the value of solar PV systems to her clients. “This course provided the necessary training I needed to allow me to represent clients with confidence,” Alexis said. “It not only taught the fundamentals and value proposition of a solar PV system, but it also explained it in terms that make sense to a real estate professional.”

    “Real estate professionals have the unique opportunity to be catalysts for the adoption of clean energy,” Alexis said. “Now we have the training to become trusted solar advisors for our clients.”

    Reach out to Pamela Brookstein at Pamela.Brookstein@ElevateEnergy to learn more or register for the course today to take advantage of the 15% discount.

     

  4. Supporting Chicago’s Most Vital Community Organizations So They Can Support Us

    Leave a Comment

    The Chicago metropolitan area is home to nearly 30,000 active public charities. These organizations provide critical social services in our communities, such as healthcare, rehabilitation, food, education, and shelter for our most at-risk populations including youth, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities.

    Elevate Energy’s nonprofit program works with many of these organizations to reduce their operating costs through cost-effective energy and water efficiency improvements that save an average of 15% on electric, natural gas, and water usage. But perhaps more importantly, directing energy savings to these vital community organizations allows them to redirect resources from overhead costs back to their important missions.

    Elevator Dara Reiff wrote about this in an article for the Social Innovations Journal, a regionally focused, volunteer-driven publication and lab.

    This article shares success stories and best practices of the program, with a focus on the work Dara and Elevate Energy do to support some of the 1,600 licensed childcare centers in our area, which have the capacity to serve over 135,000 children every year. A few key findings in the article are:

    • Our service model is successful because we design it to fit the unique needs and constraints of every organization we work with.
    • Energy efficiency can be complex. Incentive programs offered by utilities require a significant amount of time and technical expertise. To overcome this, we work closely with nonprofit leaders, stakeholders, staff, and volunteers at every step of the retrofit process.
    • Financing retrofits is very often a barrier for nonprofits with limited budgets and resources. We assist organizations with incentives and work with other partners to develop innovative financing sources and mechanisms.
    • In the article, you’ll read about the work we did with Chicago Commons, an organization that for more than 120 years has been delivering programs designed to help children, families, and seniors live better lives. We performed energy and water assessments at two of its buildings and moved ahead with a lighting retrofit that is expected to save the organization over $9,350 on electricity annually.
    • You’ll also read about the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, a frontline responder to reports of child abuse. Since opening its doors in 2001, the center has served more than 30,000 children. We helped it identify energy efficiency measures and incentives that are expected to save the nonprofit about $8,450 annually.

    If there’s one key point in the article, it’s this: energy efficiency provides stability for critical nonprofits. In turn, strong service organizations help build strong communities. Since we launched our nonprofit program, we’ve helped organizations install over 500 energy efficiency projects that are projected to save a total of over $2 million in energy costs annually. Reducing operating costs helps ensure the long-term viability of organizations, allowing them to offer critical services that contribute to the stability of their neighborhoods and ultimately create more vibrant, economically-sound, and thriving communities.

    Check out the full article in issue 46 of the Social Innovations Journal on Chicago’s social innovations, enterprises, and public private partnerships. The edition “demonstrates how Chicago, the third largest city in the United States, is leading the international social impact and social policy movement.” We’re proud to be one of many organizations doing just that.

     

  5. For a Second Time, Elevate Energy Named a Community Progress Maker by Citi Foundation

    Leave a Comment

    For a second time in a row, Citi Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Citi Bank, has named Elevate Energy a Community Progress Maker! Community Progress Makers is a $20 million grant initiative that supports 40 visionary nonprofit organizations in six U.S. cities (Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington, D.C.) in developing new approaches to persistent urban economic challenges.

    We’re honored and excited to be a part of this new cohort, of which each member receives $500,000 in core operating support and technical assistance and access to a learning community.

    How to Make Progress in Our Community: Tackle Energy Insecurity, Equitably

    The challenge we’ve identified is to ensure that the transition to the clean energy economy alleviates inequality by empowering economically disadvantaged communities in Chicago through job creation, healthy and affordable housing, and wealth-building sources of clean energy.

    In our state and across the nation, vulnerable families struggle to keep up with utility bills and must make difficult decisions to purchase necessities or to adequately heat or cool their homes. In Chicago, low-income families spend 15% of their monthly income to heat and power their homes.

    “At Elevate Energy, we seek to ensure that the benefits of clean and efficient energy use reach the people who need them most. We pair data-driven strategies with community engagement efforts to educate residents and facilitate the delivery of energy efficiency incentives into low- and moderate-income communities that are often overlooked by conventional energy programs,” said Anne Evens, CEO of Elevate Energy. “With continued support from the Community Progress Makers Fund, we can focus on ways to improve our service offerings and exchange knowledge with our fellow cohort members to create innovative solutions.”

    Solutions like energy efficiency and renewable energy sources work, but it’s critical that an equity lens is applied. Currently, Elevate Energy is collaborating with numerous community partners to start the Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator, aimed at supporting underserved communities to gain access to and benefit from emerging energy careers through solar job training and contractor development.

    Chicago

    Transformative Impact

    As a repeat Community Progress Maker, we know how critical the general operating support from Citi Foundation is to our mission. By providing multi-year, unrestricted grant support, the fund previously helped our organization develop the evidence and business case to dramatically increase clean energy investments in low-income communities. But it’s more than that. The fund is also a unique approach to grant-making that pushes organizations to transform the world by first transforming themselves. Read more about the impact  it has had for our organization and for those we serve.

    Congrats to the other members of the Chicago cohort, which include: Cara, Chicago Commons, Greater Southwest Development Corporation, and North Lawndale Employment Network. We look forward to working with these organizations and other grantees across the country.

    For more information, download a brochure from the Citi Foundation.

     

  6. Water Efficiency Upgrades Save Multifamily Housing Providers $20,500 per Property

    Leave a Comment

    By Juan Sebastian Arias and Jessica Miller

    A new study from Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) and Elevate Energy shows how affordable housing owners can save money, conserve resources, and strengthen the long-term viability of their portfolios. The report found that smart investments in water efficiency can generate savings so substantial that they pay back their initial costs in less than three years, with the average five-year savings exceeding $20,000 per property, or 22 percent of total water and sewer costs.

    “Sustainable by Design: Increasing Water Efficiency and Reducing Cost in Affordable Housing” draws on the experiences of 14 properties across Chicago where water rates have nearly tripled since 2007. People in other Midwestern cities, including Cleveland and Detroit, have seen similar increases.

    Water Efficiency

    Rising water costs hit owners of affordable housing particularly hard. While owners of market-rate apartments can pass on higher rates to tenants, owners of affordable homes typically operate under strict rent caps.

    These rising operational costs, driven in part by increases in water rates, could lead owners to defer maintenance to keep up with utility bills, or worse, lead to properties being financially unstable. In worst-case scenarios they could force buildings into foreclosures and residents out of their homes.

    “Sustainable by Design” shows a path to overcoming these challenges. It recommends that multifamily housing providers, government agencies and philanthropic organizations invest in comprehensive water efficiency strategies. The result will be properties that are more financially stable and an increase in the supply of well-designed, affordable homes across the country.

    The Chicago Water Efficiency Pilot

    In 2016, Enterprise engaged Elevate Energy’s building efficiency staff to design and implement the Chicago Water Efficiency Pilot. The 10-month pilot had four major goals:

    • Help affordable housing providers access data on water consumption.
    • Expand providers’ capacity to track water usage, including identifying risks from usage.
    • Identify measures to reduce inefficient and wasteful water consumption as a way to lower bills.
    • Build evidence showing affordable housing providers the value of water efficiency programs.

    A water efficiency specialist from Elevate Energy visited each of the affordable housing properties, all of which had felt the impact of rising water bills. Each development was financed using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit or subsidies and is maintained by a nonprofit committed to providing high-quality affordable homes to low-income residents.

    The specialist helped pilot participants begin tracking utility bills by using web-based benchmarking platforms. They can now compare their water bills over time and from building to building, making it easier to identify buildings with abnormally high usage. The specialist also provided light training and guidance on procedural improvements for maintenance staff. After data collection ended, Elevate Energy and Enterprise met with pilot participants to discuss final reports and offer guidance on next steps.

    The 2016 Chicago Water Efficiency Pilot was an extension of the Enterprise Sustainability Exchange, a green sustainability capacity building initiative for nonprofit housing owners and developers in Chicago, which Enterprise launched with partners in 2014.

    Takeaways for Housing Providers and Environmental Service Providers

    • Water Efficiency MultifamilyIdentify a staff member to transfer billing information onto a web-based benchmarking tool like Energy Scorecard, ENERGY STAR® PortfolioManager®, Wegowise or another similar platform. Decision-makers can then easily identify needs, such as on-site building assessments, repairs or building retrofits, to maintain and invest in their buildings.
    • Establish short- and long-term portfolio-management strategies that prioritize water efficiency improvements within the context of existing organizational structures, including usage monitoring, leak repair, and upgrades or replacement of inefficient shower heads, toilets and other fixtures and appliances.

    Takeaways for Funders and Policymakers

    • Support programs that subsidize water efficiency assessments, including capacity building that offers training and technical assistance to maintenance and resident services staff.
    • Secure financial support for water efficiency assessments conducted by independent environmental service advisors.
    • Develop or financially support programs that directly subsidize water efficiency retrofits.

    Enterprise and Elevate Energy look forward to collaborating with partners on the Chicago Water Efficiency Pilot and to helping affordable housing providers in Chicago, the Midwest, and nationwide improve the sustainability of their portfolios and their organizations – and, ultimately, to protect the viability of affordable housing.

    is program officer at Enterprise Community Partners, where he leads their sustainability and resiliency work in the Chicago and Detroit metro areas. is a senior manager at Elevate Energy, where she leads the development of consulting services for building owners in Chicago and nationally. 

    The Chicago Water Efficiency Pilot was made possible through generous support from the Polk Bros. Foundation and Sally Mead Hands Foundation. These foundations have been champions for sustainable practices in affordable housing and continue to support the work of building the capacity of providers to make their buildings green, sustainable and efficient in their use of energy and water. We are also grateful to State Farm for supporting the completion of this case study.

     

     

     

  7. Funding for Energy Improvements Helps Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center Continue Critical Services

    Leave a Comment

    Chicago Children's Advocacy Center

    Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center (ChicagoCAC) and its partners are the front-line responders in Chicago to reports of child sexual abuse, as well as reports of physical abuse of children under age three. Since opening their doors in 2001, they have served more than 30,000 children.

    Elevate Energy began working with ChicagoCAC in 2015 to identify opportunities for energy efficiency that qualified for incentives from ComEd’s Small Business Energy Savings (SBES) program. Elevate Energy assisted ChicagoCAC in soliciting a contractor proposal for a lighting project which included an SBES incentive to cover almost 40% of the project cost, making the payback period about three years.

    Chicago Children's Advocacy Center

    Unfortunately, when the State of Illinois budget was frozen in 2016, many of ChicagoCAC’s funding streams halted. Nonetheless, the staff and partners at ChicagoCAC continued to offer their services to children in need. While ChicagoCAC leadership was very interested in the lighting project, the organization could not afford the remainder of the project costs that year.

    We continued to work with ChicagoCAC and in 2017 were able to help it obtain grant funds in addition to SBES incentives to cover all project costs and complete the work. ChicagoCAC’s indoor and outdoor lighting has since been converted to LEDs with new controls. The project is estimated to save the nonprofit about $8,450 annually. This decrease in overhead costs allows additional resources to be redirected to fulfilling ChicagoCAC’s crucial mission and to weather future budgetary uncertainty.

    Interested in improving your childcare center or nonprofit facility? Download and share the full case study, visit our website, or contact Dara Reiff at .

  8. Northwestern University’s Path to ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year

    1 Comment

    Northwestern University Energy EfficiencyCongratulations to Northwestern University, the first university in over a decade to receive this year’s ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year Award for Energy Management!

    The private research university has a clear commitment to a healthier and more sustainable future through sustainNU, a university-wide program that aims to engage students, faculty, and staff in reducing and eliminating Northwestern’s contribution to climate change.

    This commitment includes a focus on the university’s built environment. Northwestern’s buildings and spaces account for 80 percent of the university’s carbon footprint. sustainNU set a goal to understand the energy performance of all buildings on its Evanston and Chicago campuses and collaborated with Elevate Energy to benchmark energy use from 2012 to 2017.

    We helped sustainNU compile a comprehensive inventory to present a full picture of energy use at all 221 university-owned buildings. Elevator Maria Quiñones helped lead the project. A point she is quick to make is that, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” It’s true. Benchmarking buildings in ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® has helped Northwestern more accurately manage energy usage, identify buildings in need of improvements, and monitor progress toward their sustainability goals. There are other clear benefits, too.

    Northwestern University Energy EfficiencySet Investment Priorities and Get Recognized

    Benchmarking helps identify energy use outliers to set clearer investment priorities. “The university can identify buildings poor performing buildings and set investment priorities to ensure that buildings are comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient spaces,” Maria said. “They can also identify those buildings performing well and acknowledge the students, faculty, and staff for their sustainable behaviors.”

    Benchmarking also helps validate buildings that have already completed energy efficiency improvements, are designed to green standards, and follow sustainable management practices. Take 66-year-old Kresge Centennial Hall for example, the first building on campus to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council last fall. The original building relied on radiators, window air conditioners, and operable windows to control temperature. Benchmarking the energy use of the property before and after the renovation made it clear that although energy use has increased due to a roughly 10,000 square foot addition and the installation cutting-edge building systems, it is still performing well all while providing a modern, safe, and green work and study environment. Northwestern designs all major renovations like Kresge Centennial Hall and new construction projects to achieve LEED certification. To date, 12 building on campus have achieved this recognition!

    This brings up another benefit: Benchmarking buildings in ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® makes it simple to apply for and receive recognition for existing high performing buildings year after year through ENERGY STAR® certification. For Northwestern, this is an easy first step in implementing their strategic sustainability plan.

    Northwestern University Energy Efficiency

    Automate and Engage

    The project will enable the university to implement an automated Energy Management Information System (EMIS) this year to integrate and centralize utility data, an update that typically cuts energy use by 10 to 20 percent according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The system will be used to log and track energy efficiency improvements and to measure and verify savings.

    There’s also an education and engagement benefit. Through EMIS, energy use data will be accessible via a central web platform. The university can create outward-facing dashboards that can be displayed in campus buildings to encourage occupants to take action to reduce energy and water usage and track the impact of their efforts.

    Northwestern University Energy Efficiency

    Support (or Start) a Sustainability Plan

    This project is a key component of Northwestern’s commitment to lead the way toward a greener, healthier, and more sustainable future. Motivations among other colleges and universities might range from meeting local energy benchmarking ordinance requirements, to participating in national programs like the Better Buildings Challenge, to achieving internal sustainability goals or creating a healthy and safe environment — or, all of the above. Sustainability and climate plans typically encompass transportation, water, waste, purchasing, and other areas. But, Maria says, “We also need to understand how energy is used so that we work on the right buildings. Understanding and addressing energy consumption often results in some of the largest achievable impacts.”

    Northwestern University is one large step closer to its goal of reducing energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020. Next up for sustainNU is to do for water and waste what it did for energy use. “They have a holistic commitment to sustainability, paving the path for other institutions to also eliminate their contribution to climate change”” Maria said.

    Please join us in congratulating Northwestern University and sustainNU for their leadership in campus energy management. Are you interested in learning more about what your college or university can do? Get in touch with us at 773-269-4037 or .

     

  9. What Better Data Can Do For Multifamily Buildings

    Leave a Comment

    Kimberly Loewen Multifamily BuildingsBi-monthly magazine retrofit just published an article from Elevator Kimberly Loewen about how our Chicago segmentation analysis improves energy efficiency programs that serve a huge but hard-to-reach multifamily market. Here’s a preview of the story, which you can find in their March-April issue!

    There is a clear connection between our environment and our buildings. Efforts to mitigate climate change must focus on the built environment, which uses the most energy and produces the most carbon emissions of any sector. In particular, multifamily buildings—defined as residential buildings with two or more units—need attention.

    “We’re no strangers to the unique set of challenges that multifamily buildings present,” says Anne Evens, CEO of Elevate Energy. “A multifamily building can have several different types of utility service within the same building. There are numerous ownership models. And many cities don’t have data about what their multifamily housing stock is like.”

    Retrofit magazine multifamily buildings Until recently, energy-efficiency programs have rarely been tailored to the specific needs of a multifamily building. This is all changing, in part, because we have better data. The story in retrofit centers on a “segmentation analysis” we did in partnership with the national Energy Efficiency for All initiative, in which we constructed a database of 143,000 multifamily buildings in Chicago and segmented them based on age, size and other traits to better understand the city’s multifamily sector.

    “The takeaway from the segmentation analysis is that program implementers have to really understand the market they serve to be able to identify opportunities to better align and customize energy-efficiency services to buildings’ and owners’ needs,” Evens explains.

    The story of the segmentation analysis is about how data can inform better program design and be leveraged to motivate building owners. It’s also about what you can with data in your city. Read the full account in the March-April issue of retrofit Magazine, available online or in print via a free magazine subscription.

  10. Start Seeing More Solar Homes

    Leave a Comment

    The inventory of homes with solar energy is growing. The number of households with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the U.S. is expected to surpass one million this year. By 2020, this number is expected to reach four million. Yet, for many real estate professionals, solar remains a new frontier.

    Not so for Michael Brannon, a REALTOR® at Coldwell Banker Bain in the state of Washington. He recently completed an online course, Selling the Sun: Establishing Value for Solar Homes from Elevate Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative.

    “Your eyesight focuses on what your mind’s eye is focused on, like when you’re shopping for a particular type of car and then all of a sudden you see that model everywhere,” Michael said. “Well, now I see so many houses that have solar panel installations, whereas before they didn’t seem to register.”

    Michael, a U.S. Navy Veteran, has been with Coldwell Banker Bain for three years. “I help real people buy and sell homes and I especially love being able to serve the military, both active and fellow veterans,” he said.

    Michael heard of the course through the National Association of REALTORS® and was compelled to sign up because he believes we can reduce our impact on the earth. “I want to be a part of promoting alternative energy sources,” he said.

    Selling the Sun answers the most common questions surrounding this growing inventory of homes, including:

    • A review of the core components of the system and an explanation of how they work together to create electricity
    • Tips for listing homes that showcase the benefits of solar installations
    • Current financing options available to help homeowners fund a solar installation

    Get Solar Smart for a Market Edge

    The result? Agents who complete the course can communicate the value of solar installations to homeowners and lenders. They’ll also know what questions to ask, how PV solar installations affect the sale of a home, and how to identify installations on a multiple listing service.

    Selling the Sun Establishing Value for Solar Homes“I believe in continuing education and as a professional, it is your responsibility to increase one’s knowledge level,” Michael said.

    “Mainly, I’ve gained confidence that I understand the steps needed to better evaluate a home with a solar power installation, not only for helping people sell their home, but it increases my value to help someone buy a home that has a preexisting system,” Michael said.

    There’s a clear environmental impact, too. Once solar PV installations are consistently and accurately valued and investment increases, so too will growth of clean energy nationwide—something we’re particularly excited about at Elevate Energy.

    Resources for More Information

    Solar for Real Estate Professionals from GW Solar Institute on Vimeo.