Welcome Meg Garabrant
On July 31, 2020 Earth Advantage was pleased to welcome another new staff member to our team, Meg Garabrant. Her newly created role of Senior Business Development Manager - Green Real Estate Services was created to expressly focus our efforts to bring green home data and training to the real estate market.
We believe the key to advancing our mission is in our three-pronged strategic approach to the real estate market, which allows energy efficient and green assets to be properly valued. Meg’s role will focus on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) systems’ adoption of green fields in alignment with RESO (Real Estate Standards Organization) data dictionary standards and both acquiring more home data and getting that data auto-populated to multiple listing services across the country. She will also work closely with our Senior Manager of Education, Ryan LaPoma to promote our real estate market training curriculum.
My recent interview with Meg discusses her background, her interests and her goals surrounding her new role at Earth Advantage. If you want to talk to Meg about our Green Building Registry® DaaS you can reach her here.
Welcome Meg. You’re our first New England staff member! Can you share a little bit about living in New Hampshire with us?
Thanks, Erik, I’m so happy to be a part of the Earth Advantage team! I am a New Hampshire native, and visited Portland, Oregon a number of years ago - it’s a beautiful place and I can’t wait to visit (post-COVID-19)! The thing I love about New Hampshire is that we have all seasons to enjoy (and complain about!); we have the seacoast, a lot of lakes, mountains, and so much space for outdoor activities. If you don’t know where New Hampshire is, we usually need to say we’re just north of Boston!
We both have a background in marketing, can you share with us a little about how you got invovled in marketing and past projects?
I had decided to take a break from college after two years as I wasn’t certain what I wanted to major in. I did some traveling, worked, and learned about a local direct marketing agency that was hiring. It sounded interesting and they decided to hire me. I loved it - learned so much, got to work with a lot of great people and clients, be innovative and work to expand the business into what we know now as digital marketing (while working there I did return to school and obtained my B.S. in Business Management). I have also spent time in corporate marketing gaining first hand experience and broadening my marketing skills.
What led to your shift to working in the real estate market?
Agency work can be unpredictable, and at that stage in my life I was needing stability. I found a new position available at the local MLS (which other than buying a home I had no prior knowledge of), and in the end I got the position and have loved it ever since!
You worked at NEREN (New England Real Estate Network) MLS for over ten years. While there I know you got involved in several things like ‘green fields’ which are fundamental to our own strategic efforts. Share with us a little about your NEREN experiences with RESO compliance, green fields, and green data.
I think this is kind of a funny story - I rode my bicycle to the office to pick up my new hire paperwork, and the rest is history! Being a responsible citizen is something that’s important to me, and the fact that I got to blend that into my work life has been awesome. The short version - I had the passion and capacity to tackle this and we prioritized the business need to do so. The more I learned the more I got involved within the industry with RESO and CMLS (Council of Multiple Listing Services) and other local and national workgroups and initiatives to bring more awareness to the importance of green data as part of the real estate transaction process.
After ten years of us making green data updates, RESO published their green field standards that we adopted. As part of one of the workgroups I was on we were able to obtain solar data in Vermont and implement a first in the nation data auto-population of this information into a new listing with the help of our technology partners. Working through the migration to the RESO standard green fields and the data auto-pop process was an invaluable experience. I also got to develop and deliver training to our member agents and appraisers on how to use this data and why it’s important information.
What are you most excited about in your new role at Earth Advantage?
Besides the fact that I found the perfect position for me at a great organization that is doing so much good in so many ways? I had the privilege of speaking at the CMLS conference in 2018 about the importance of green data and why MLSs needed to adopt the RESO standards and one of the challenges I spoke about was sourcing green data for auto-population (which has many benefits - more comprehensive data, reduced liability to the agent, better marketing, potential for higher sales price).
I am SO happy to now have the opportunity to provide this solution to the market with the Green Building Registry. I also get to use my first hand experience with RESO green field adoption to consult with MLSs/Associations and other entities to help them align their database fields with these standards. I love, love this work and helping others, and am passionate about the importance of this information in the market so this position is a perfect fit for me!
In your mind, what are the challenges ahead with the real estate market valuing green home assets properly?
This is a big question, and I think the solution is a multi-pronged approach. First and foremost though, in order for this to happen there needs to be an economy of scale - the data needs to get into the market.
And this is where the solution involves many - MLS databases need to be able to support the standardized data (prioritizing the adoption of the green RESO standard fields); Education and prioritization of green data by practitioners (agents/brokers); sourcing and implementing auto-population of this data. There are many appraisers trained to use this data in their valuation process and lenders have green mortgage programs available, but they’re not getting the data in most markets.
Consumer demand, which seems to be on the rise will also help; some municipalities have mandated energy audits already and others are examining policy to go this route. Many states have sustainability and carbon reduction plans in place - all of these factors will help contribute to getting (or force) this data into the real estate market. Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that this all involves change, and change is hard!
If you had a crystal ball, where do you see the real estate market moving in the future in relation to green and energy efficiency data?
I like to steal a quote from the movie Field of Dreams (my field has solar arrays) - ‘If you build it, they will come’. This ties in nicely with the challenges I just mentioned and the needed alignment of market players to move forward.
I would love to see all MLS databases adopt the RESO green standard fields (I’m using this general term, there are specific fields, and field collections that make up the ‘green fields’). The nice thing about these fields is that they are applicable nationwide - the only thing local may be the pick-list of building certifications relevant to an area of the country. Many are required to be RESO certified, so your green fields should be included.
Data auto-population makes so much sense - the technology providers have this ability already, and the GBR-API makes it so easy to implement now. Green data is being aggregated in the Green Building Registry making sourcing data and getting a more comprehensive data set from a single source for a market an option now!
My dream is really that the inclusion of this information becomes mainstream - the norm - it’s just there, and if not, it’s absence is missed.
We’re all challenged by the current COVID-19 pandemic. When we finally have an effective vaccine and life returns to some kind of normal, what are you most looking forward to?
Hugs! I’m a hugger, and can’t wait to hug my non-household family and friends again (and maybe some strangers). Not being as much of a paranoid germaphobe, sharing a bowl of popcorn, seeing people! I can’t wait for my kids to be able to see their friends, return to school and be the social beings they need to be.