As real estate professionals, we should be finding ways to be good neighbors to our clients and to the earth that surrounds and sustains us and our businesses. Here’s what you can do to help.

One of the biggest lessons of the pandemic has been the importance of the real estate industry as a driver for the U.S. economy. Even in times of unprecedented economic and social upheaval, the concept of homeownership and its economic potential ended up ameliorating many of the early fear-based predictions of economists and policymakers.

As real estate professionals, we have an even more personal sense of the financial importance of real estate. It puts food on our tables and money in our pockets. It pays for the literal roof over our heads in a direct way.

Now, think about what makes all of that possible and bears the greatest brunt of every step of the real estate process. From breaking ground to building homes to the paperwork that makes the industry run, trees — and the products that come from them — form the foundation of everything we do as real estate agents.

According to a study by S&P Global Market Intelligence, the global value of real estate in 2019 was estimated at $217 trillion. Internationally, real estate consumes around 40 percent of world energy output each year, accounting for more than 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

That is not a statistic intended to make you feel guilty. It is one that I share in order to highlight the potential impact our industry can have if we are willing to take even small steps to offset our effect on the environment.

Even as we try and go digital in our transactions and marketing initiatives, the things we do still have an impact on our environment. Maybe you’re no longer printing a contract but you’re still printing flyers, brochures, just-listed and just-sold postcards. It’s time for us to become more conscious and more honest with ourselves about the damage we do, and look for ways to help.

As an industry, it’s time to do our part to help offset global warming and climate change — an environmental trend that is having an increasing impact on our markets and our clients. We can do that by giving back through tree-planting initiatives, like those provided by The Jonsteen Company and Trees.org.

At our company, we have planted 27,250 trees to date through an initiative where we give 20 trees to offset the paperwork involved in each real estate transaction. This is a way that we can create a tangible offset for the environmental impact of the work we do.

If you’re interested in making this type of initiative work for your business, here are some strategies to consider:

  • Consider giving a sapling to a client as a closing gift or donating a tree for the landscaping of their new home.
  • Make your next brokerage team-building exercise a tree-planting party or purchase a local vacant lot and fill it with carbon-absorbing native trees and grasses.
  • Help rebuild a forested area after wildfires or flooding or participate in a cleanup in your community.
  • Focus on what you can do in your office to promote environmentally friendly practices. Choose sustainable materials for signage and office supplies, including copy paper and promotional products.

This is no longer about preaching or tree-hugging or any of the ways that we politicize environmental issues. It’s simply about finding ways to be good neighbors to our clients and to the earth that surrounds and sustains us and our businesses. We can all do something to help, so we should all do something to help.

Troy Palmquist is the founder and broker of The Address in Southern California. Follow him on Facebook, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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