How to run an environmentally-friendly real estate office and grow your business

Real estate is not traditionally considered a high-impact industry when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. But we do have an opportunity to stand out from our competitors and create an instant point of difference if we can show that we care about the same things that our customers do.

How to run an environmentally-friendly real estate office and grow your business
Photo by Copernico / Unsplash

Customers are starting to evaluate the green credentials of every business they interact with.

As the world wrestles with the process of decarbonising our economy to avoid the catastrophic effects of the climate crisis, our clients are only going to become more aware of the impact their consumer choices make.

Real estate is not traditionally considered a high-impact industry when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. But we do have an opportunity to stand out from our competitors and create an instant point of difference if we can show that we care about the same things that our customers do.

Running an environmentally considerate business is not only good for your marketing, it's just the right thing to do. And the cool thing is, making a difference doesn't have to cost a lot of money. Often, it's simply a matter of directing your existing spending to the right places to have a positive impact.

In this article, you'll find a list of ideas that you could incorporate into your business to show your green credentials and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Give away a worm farm or compost bin with each house sale

Keeping food waste out of landfills is one of the most effective strategies available for reducing emissions. In most cities, around 50% of municipal waste is organic material that could be composted. It's also a gateway activity on the road to learning about sustainability.

For more info on worm farms, check out this guide:

How to start a worm farm (and reduce your waste by 50%)
In our latest podcast episode, we talk about one of my favourite climate solutions - worm farms! Worm farms allow you to recycle all your food waste at home, in a planet-friendly way. By doing so, you’ll be diverting organic waste away from landfills, where it produces methane, a seriously

We also have a feature article for your next email newsletter on reducing food waste in the home:

How to reduce food waste in your home
The content we send to our database doesn’t always have to be about buying and selling houses. It can be about optimising our life, in connection with our homes. That’s why agents drop just listed cards with recipes on the back. And it’s also the idea behind this feature article.

Plant trees for every house sale

You could use an organisation like TreesThatCount to sponsor native tree planting on behalf of your clients.

Offset your carbon footprint

Pay to offset your carbon footprint through a system like CarbonClick, which funds forest regeneration projects and other high-impact climate initiatives around the world.

These organisations run on very-low costs so would provide a very cheap sponsorship option, plus the volunteers (and your local community) will love you for it. Your local council will be able to provide you with a list of community-run gardens in your area.

Zero-waste snacks at open homes

Ideas include glass water or soda bottles, dried fruit in glass jars or small paper bags, and canned drinks. Collect any empty bottles and cans so you can ensure they get recycled. Try to use snacks which are low in sugar to make them kid-friendly. As a fallback option, the good old cardboard boxes of sun-maid raisins are a safe bet.

Use recyclable signboards

Corrflute plastic signs are terrible for the environment. Anything made out of plastic takes lifetimes to break down, and then it ends up as microplastics, seeping their way into our drinking water, food and waterways. Look for a company that provides signboards made from sustainable, recyclable materials. One option worth checking out is CQ in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Downloadable info on all listings

Use a service like to save on paper and make it easy for your clients to electronically access the ever-growing mountain of paperwork that comes with each listing.

3D walkthroughs on all listings

These are sometimes referred to as a 'matterport' and essentially give prospective buyers to tour your listing from the comfort of their home. It's a great way to pre-qualify buyers, encourage sight-unseen offers and cut down on unnecessary driving trips, thereby reducing emissions.

Collect organic waste in your office

Install a worm farm outside your office to divert your company's organic waste away from landfills. Modern versions are clean, and tidy and don't take up much space. You can even use a service like WhyWaste to manage your system. Alternatively, ask your local waste company if they provide a separate collection service for organics.

Appoint an office sustainability champion

This person will champion the solutions listed in this article, along with their own ideas, to help your office evolve into a thriving, modern real estate company that cares about the environment. For bonus points, create a sustainability club or committee and meet once a month to track progress and generate ideas.

Find land for an urban farm CSA charity

The future of food is local, organic and regenerative. By communities, for communities. Small-scale urban farms are starting to pop up all over the world as this movement grows. You can help foster this by keeping an eye out for small plots of land, currently sitting vacant that could be utilised to grow food.

Provide a free recycling and donation collection service

Most of your future sellers will take on a big clear out before they put their property on the market, and again before settlement day. You can add real value here by arranging a service to pickup their recyclable or donatable items, ensuring they don't get dumped at your local landfill.

Provide free charging for e-bikes

If your office is on a main street, put a sign up outside your front door offering free e-bike charging. What a cool way to stand out to passers-by.

Free e-bike rentals from your office - so much easier than a trailer!

Even better, loan out e-bikes to local visitors. If you live in a small town or holiday area, this could be a great way to encourage visitors to explore. You could even give them a map of properties for sale to 'drive-by'.

A final note on electric vehicles...

Naturally, I could have started this list with 'buy an electric vehicle' but I wanted to stick to accessible, affordable options. You don't have to own a Tesla to show you care about our planet.

For more info on EV's, check out this podcast:

What it’s really like to own an electric car
We’ve all heard that electric cars are better for the environment. But what are they like to drive from a practical point of view? And what if your battery craps out? What happens if you run out of range? And why do they all look so ugly? In this

Where to from here?

Start by implementing one option from the list above. Sustainability is not an overnight fix. It is a gradual process to future-proof your business and stand out in a crowded marketplace. The end result is - you will attract more clients while making the world a better place.

The next challenge is talking about your actions in a way that doesn't come across as green-washing. for more on that topic, check out this guide:

Doing good better: How real estate agents can save lives (and the planet)
Real estate professionals are among the most generous people in the world. To members of the public that may sound like a bold statement, with the publicperception often centring around thoughts of commission-hungry salespeople,extracting every last dollar from vulnerable buyers. But the truth…

Do you have ideas we should add to this list?

Get in touch and let us know. We'd love to hear from you.

For more ideas on living more sustainably in general, check out my Good You Can Do podcast and blog:

Good You Can Do
Good You Can Do | Podcast + Blog