Like Spivey, a longtime advocate for urban revitalization and smart growth, many agents working in green real estate have a background in environmental issues. "It was a natural for me," says Charlottesville, Virginia–based EcoBroker Roger Voisinet, who is often hired by green developers to help market new properties. Before embarking on a career in real estate, Voisinet received his master's degree in environmental science and worked designing models for sustainable cities. He uses that knowledge to educate buyers on technologies like passive solar, high-efficiency furnaces, and the occasional rain catchment system. "In any green project, there are usually 10 to 20 features that set the homes apart from ordinary houses," he says. "I can go into the details and benefits of each of them."

For home buyers, there may be ongoing benefits to working with green brokers. Ben Kaufman, who co-founded Seattle-based GreenWorks Realty with his father, Louis, in 2002, offers clients a "Healthy Home Assessment"—a review of the house's indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and the greenness of its building materials and construction methods. After making the assessment, GreenWorks agents can offer advice on eco-upgrades new owners might want to consider. Such upgrades not only make the house more comfortable and cheaper to live in but also make it more marketable to future buyers.

GreenWorks adds to the incentives by leaving new homeowners with a gift package meant to encourage greener thinking in other aspects of their lives, including a box of organic food from locally owned farms, a gift certificate to a green building-supply store, and a coupon for a car-sharing program. Sure, it's a marketing ploy, but it's also a great way to show that this new breed of agents has their hearts in the right place. "A lot of our clients come to us because they understand we are in the business of improving the livability of the region," says Kaufman. "They just see us as good guys." Hmm. Maybe the next generation of real estate pros won't be known so much for their gold jackets as they are for their white—make that greenhats.
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