Cathy Allen

Cathy Allen

A few years ago, I was doing some research on how Maryland was leading the charge when it came to sustainable building practices and stumbled across millions of dollars in the form of: grants, loans, tax incentives, tax waivers and rebates from federal, state and local agencies for property owners and home buyers all in the name of energy-efficiency.

I sought out some real estate agents to get an overview of the steps it takes to receive energy efficient incentives when buying a home.  I hit a brick wall. The average real estate agent had no idea of the millions of dollars available in energy efficiency for home buyers or retrofitting existing homes and buildings for resale.

I was amazed, confused and down right angry because as an environmentalist the real estate industry should promote energy efficient incentives for their clients.  So, five years ago I became a Maryland real estate agent but I did not stop there, I received an international real estate certification to address, encourage and promote energy efficiency in homes, buildings and land.

The real estate is an industry that sits on land.  In other words, the real estate industry plays a pivotal role in sustaining the environment.

The following is a case study of one my real estate clients that took advantage of energy efficient funding, tax incentives, grants and rebates that totaled over $27, 000.00

Victoria, a first-time homebuyer in Baltimore, Md. was looking to purchase a home in the $100,000 range.

Victoria first step was to obtain an energy-efficient mortgage (EEM).  EEM allows borrowers additional money above the standard maximum loan amount to make energy efficient improvements to an existing home.

With an energy-efficient mortgage in hand, Victoria settled on a charming 2-story townhouse with no roof insulation, lots of cracks around the windows, doors and fireplace, and a 20-year-old working furnace.

Her next step was to get a traditional home inspection along with an energy rating blowers test to isolate where the house was losing energy.  The blower test revealed the 20 year old working furnace was leaking high toxic levels of carbon monoxide.  From those findings, I was able to negotiate a new $7, 000 energy efficient furnace at the seller’s expense.  Traditional home inspections do not test for carbon monoxide levels.

The energy rater recommended energy improvements to reduce Victoria’s annual energy cost by $500.  Those improvements included: energy efficient lightening, attic insulation and chalking the interior of the house.  In Victoria’s case the energy efficient improvements totaled $3, 766 and those dollars was applied to her energy efficient mortgage.

Armed with her energy efficient improvements cash of $3, 766, Victoria met with Retrofit Baltimore, a nonprofit agency of energy advocates, who screen and recommend contractors for home energy efficient improvements. Retrofit Baltimore identified $1, 883 in utility energy rebates.

So far Victoria totaled, $3, 766 in energy efficient improvement cash, $7, 000 energy efficient new furnace by seller and $1, 883 in energy rebates.  It didn’t stop there for Victoria, she also took advantage of a $10,000 grant from Baltimore City Vacant to Value program.

With the energy efficient work that was performed on Victoria’s house, she is now saving over $15, 000 in energy costs over the life of her home mortgage.

To find about energy efficient incentives for home buying and retrofitting an existing home visit my website at

Cathy Allen is an award-winning Urban Environmentalist, the co-creator of G.R.A.S.S. (Growing Resources After Sowing Seed) as well as Chair of the “Grow-It Eat It” campaign. G.R.A.S.S. is an environmental entrepreneurial nonprofit program based on the fundamentals of gardening, agriculture and ecology. In conjunction with Baltimore City Public Schools, Allen’s campaign has planted over a half-million trees on the lawns of Baltimore City public schools.