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Fairfield Realtors Learn Many Homebuyers Are Searching For Solar

Scott Thompson, chair of Fairfield's Clean Energy Task Force, tells the Greater Fairfield Board of Realtors about the town's Solarize Fairfield program. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Mary Hogue, chair of Fairfield's Earth Day Committee, addresses the Greater Fairfield Board of Realtors. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Environmental experts addressed the Greater Fairfield Board of Realtors Wednesday, explaining what sorts of sustainable bells and whistles the savvy homebuyer is looking for these days.

“Solar is the new granite countertop,” said Bob Wall, associate director of marketing and outreach at Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, or CEFIA.

Homes on the market with existing solar panels, modern insulation and sustainable landscaping are getting noticed by a new breed of buyers, he and others said.

About 300 homes in Fairfield currently use some form of solar cells, said Scott Thompson, chairman of the town’s Clean Energy Task Force. When the town announced its Solarize Fairfield initiative recently, about 75 homeowners signed up to learn more.

“It’s really incredible what’s happening,” he said.

Last year, an AP environmental science class at Fairfield Warde High School studied about 16,300 rooftops in town — via Google — to see which would be good candidates for solar cells. The town sent letters to about 5,500 homes that fit the criteria, Thompson said.

The next informational workshop will be held at 7 p.m., April 28, at the Fairfield Public Library.

Elizabeth DiSalvo is an architect at Trillium Architects, which won the 2016 CT Green Building Council’s Award of Excellence. She said her firm focuses on building homes that are energy efficient, sustainable and healthy.

She promoted the idea of “greening” the multiple listings services by letting buyers know if a home boasts state-of-the-art water, heating, cooling and air-quality features.

“We care passionately about this,” she said.

And the environment around the home matters, too, said Dan Corra, business manager of Plantscapes Organics.

“One thing people are looking for is low-maintenance landscapes,” he said.

Other desirables include organic tick control and innovative use of storm water, including adding it to a pool, he said.

“Another big selling point is the lawns,” he said. “Having nice landscaping is a huge selling point.”

Fairfield is getting in on the act, too, according to Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart.

The town saves about $2.4 million annually in “cost avoidance” by taking advantage of rebates and other programs tied to sustainable initiatives around town.

“The town is very proud of its leadership position,” he said.

The Greater Fairfield Board of Realtors serves Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Milford, Monroe, Newtown, Shelton, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

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