The state of Colorado has introduced a category for sustainable and energy-efficient homes into its multiple listing service (MLS), the database used by realtors to list and find information about homes for sale.

The Colorado Energy Office worked with local communities statewide to add a "green fields" category to the Colorado MLS, which would specifically address the energy efficiency and environmental impact of the homes listed within the category. The four main categories in the "green fields" MLS listings are:
--Homes holding a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Score
--ENERGY STAR-labeled homes
--LEED-certified homes
-- National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Building Standard-certified homes

The initiative is a significant acknowledgment of the growing demand for energy-efficient homes in Colorado, according to a press release from the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), the energy rating standards organization behind the HERS Index. The green fields category will enable realtors to provide their clients with better information about a property's energy efficiency, as well as information regarding qualifications for loan programs related to energy-efficiency upgrades. An advantage for home sellers is that studies have shown that homes with energy-saving features command higher resale prices, while home buyers benefit from understanding the potential cost of running a home by examining its HERS Index Score.

Realtors rely on the MLS to guide potential home buyers, and appraisers use the service to locate comparable properties, says RESNET executive director Steve Baden. “Having this information will make it easier for builders to market their HERS Index Scores and appraisers to calculate the market value of rated homes."

Colorado isn't the only MLS that's expanding to address consumer demand for energy-efficient homes. Portland's Regional Multiple Listing Service, for example, has a built-in drop-down menu that helps real estate agents find energy-performance ratings and search for existing homes retrofitted with energy-efficient or sustainable products, such as rain collectors and solar tubes. According to RESNET, other MLSs across the United States are also planning on "greening" their services, such as the MetroTex Association of Realtors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.