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When I’m at a dinner party or going to a baseball game with friends, the conversation sometimes turns to what people are doing to improve their homes. As many of our readers have discovered on their own, improving the energy performance of your home can also make it more comfortable and attractive, increase its value, and help you save money on your energy bills.

Remodeling a kitchen with granite countertops or stainless steel fixtures, for example, might make a home more attractive to a potential buyer. In the same way, installing energy-saving appliances, windows and doors, insulation, heating and cooling equipment, and automated thermostats, to name a few energy-efficiency upgrades, can be big selling points in our energy-conscious world. 

Anybody who buys an older house, condo, or apartment and remodels it with energy-saving products will tell you that their investments can help make the home more attractive and comfortable, and reduce its energy costs at the same time. And the combined effect of those upgrades can be built into the resale price by the seller when the time comes to move out. The same can hold true of commercial real estate.

To help encourage more Americans to upgrade their businesses with energy-saving products, the Department of Energy recently announced a partnership that will help expand access to energy-efficiency and building performance information for commercial buildings. DOE will work together with The Appraisal Foundation to ensure that appraisers have the information, practical guidelines, and professional resources they need to evaluate energy performance when conducting building appraisals. By improving the availability of tools and data, appraisers will be able to accurately add the value of energy-efficiency upgrades into a building’s appraisal.

The partnership could spur more investors and building owners and operators to “pay it forward” by choosing to build value through energy-efficiency upgrades that can also allow their facilities to save money. The reduced energy costs they will see over the long-term can also make companies themselves more efficient and competitive.

The partnership will equip the market with the information it needs to make sure that the utility bill savings that come with building efficiency improvements are appropriately factored into the building's overall value. In conjunction with The Appraisal Foundation, DOE will develop information and educational tools relating to valuing green buildings based on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice - the generally accepted standards for U.S. building appraisers. These tools and resources will help appraisers appropriately include energy performance and sustainability in valuations.

Under the partnership, DOE will also develop educational materials, and create a database to provide appraisers with energy-savings data, Federal green building programs and policies, and additional information on energy performance. Read the full text of the partnership agreement . This partnership is one of the steps the Department is taking as part of the part of President Obama's Better Buildings Initiative announced in February.

It makes perfect sense that investing in better, more energy-efficient products can increase a home’s resale value. The value of commercial buildings will soon more accurately reflect investments in energy performance as well. That’s a step in the right direction.