How Do You Market One of the Greenest Homes in the World?

“You’ve only got one house renovation like this in your lifetime,” says owner David Gottfried of the 1915 Craftsman bungalow in Oakland that he and his wife Sara turned into an environmentally conscious gem. The renovation earned multiple awards and literally broke records, getting more “Build It Green” points than any previous home, and becoming (for a while) the highest rated LEED home in the United States.

The upgrades included things like redoing the kitchen and bathrooms with recycled glass tile and concrete counters; adding rainwater- and graywater-capture systems to irrigate the yard and use in the half-bath toilet; adding solar panels and a solar hot water heater; replacing the windows with double-paned glass and adding insulation; adding radiant heating and energy-efficient appliances; relandscaping with vegetables and native, drought-tolerant plants; and much more. Throughout the renovation, the Gottfrieds reused wood and hardware from within the house and from other sources.

Gottfried’s attention to detail is such that he went so far as to take each radiant heating unit (which come in white, white, and white) to an auto body shop and have it repainted to match the intended color of the room — and the rooms are, of course, painted with no VOC paint. (If you look closely, there’s a brown-painted radiant heating unit on the wall to the far right of the bed there.)

But now that Gottfried’s family needs more space, it’s time to sell the house. And that means having to somehow convey to buyers all the valuable work that went into it. “It has presented a challenge,” says Gottfried. One unusual step they took was to create a list of the home’s “Green Features,” to be passed out to visitors. But with 31 items on the list, buyers might not absorb it all, or realize what they were actually looking at while walking through, room by room.

So Gottfried came up with an additional idea — one I’ve never seen used anywhere else — to place small, elegantly fashioned signs in each room, explaining its particular green features.

To the left is the sign in the bathroom, for example, listing features like the recycled content steel bathtub, Energy Star exhaust fan, dual flush toilet, and so on.

Gottfried had also previously created a website for the home, “DAVID GOTTFRIED GREEN HOME,” which now mentions that it’s for sale. And of course, the selling agent has made sure to mention the LEED certification and other green features in the marketing materials.

Even if your home isn’t one of the greenest in the country, consider, when you sell, whether you can use some of these strategies to explain what’s special about the house — or what buyers might not notice without it being brought to their attention.