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Startup Monday: Viva Green Helps Home Buyers Find Eco-Friendly Houses

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

When Arlington real estate agent Kari Klaus decided to renovate her home to make it more energy efficient, she stumbled upon a problem.

Klaus, whose background is in sustainable development, realized that the traditional real estate property listing system doesn’t showcase or market environmentally friendly features for homes, making her house appear similar to others that aren’t energy efficient.

From working in the real estate business, she knew that home buyers care about how eco-friendly their future home will be.

“Wouldn’t you want to know if the home you are thinking of buying has superior systems, a tight building envelope (sealed to prevent air leaks) with solar panels and will save you potentially hundreds of dollars each and every month?” Klaus said.

But there was no understandable and reliable way to rank, search and view energy efficient homes, Klaus said.

That’s where VivaGreenHomes.com comes in.

VivaGreenHomes.com“VivaGreenHomes.com shows you that these options exist and explains their importance to you as a home buyer,” Klaus said. “If a home’s environmental or health value has not won you over, then the potential to save you a lot of money will.”

She said her company changes the game because other real estate listing services aggregate home listings without any verification procedures. VivaGreenHomes.com uses claim verification methods, including a “Home Energy Rating System” score, an industry standard for eco-friendly homes.

A beta version of the site launched in October 2014. Feedback received from industry leaders helped to shape the website before its full launch in May. Just two months after launching the full version, the website has nearly 4,500 active listings, Klaus said.

In the next six months, VivaGreenHomes.com plans to add more user tools, consumer information and other features. Amid those changes, Klaus hopes the number of listings on the site will reach 20,000 in the next year.

Arlington provides all the resources the company needs to continue to grow, she said.

“It’s been incredible to be around so many professionals that work in the sustainability and eco-homes industry,” Klaus said. “It has been a great resource for the company’s growth, including the recruitment of some of our newest team members who live in the D.C. area.”

VivaGreenHomes.com is currently affiliated with 1776 Crystal City, Mentor Capital Network’s Bethesda Green Cohort and Cleantech Open Southeast.

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