Realtors Introduce New Environmental Council

Thursday, November 15, 2007

BELLEVUE, Wash. (Oct. 4, 2007) -- Pioneering the first such program in the nation, the Seattle-King County Association of REALTORS (SKCAR) will launch an environmental initiative on Oct. 16 and 17. The events mark the official unveiling of The Realtors Environmental Council (TREC), which will become a newly formed nonprofit organization to promote environmental stewardship.

The inaugural program consists of a two-part course that includes classroom instruction and an “on-the-ground” public service project. The “Emerging Urban Environments” class, led by John Spangenberg, president of Urban Connections, is approved for 7.5 clock hours of continuing education requirements and is open to both Realtors and non-Realtors. Class registration should be made online at or by calling (800) 540-3277.

Spangenberg said the classroom curriculum is designed to help brokers and agents understand environmental issues and land use policies affecting real estate markets in the Puget Sound region. The course will cover political and cultural factors of environmental change, the impact of various ordinances and policies (such as critical areas, shorelines, fisheries and the Growth Management Act) on real estate development and construction practices, and the growing significance of green business practices, products and services.

On the second day of the course, participants will travel by bus charter to Federal Way to provide hands-on assistance to The Friends of the Hylebos in their efforts to protect and restore streams, wetlands, forests and open space in the Hylebos watershed. Spangenberg said this component illustrates regulations at work and provides a “win-win” experience as students plant native trees and shrubs in the North Fork Open Space.

The Friends of the Hylebos has been working with the community to protect and restore streams, wetlands, forests and open space in the Hylebos watershed since 1983. The site, located a mile west of I-5, is one of the last remaining bogs in South King County and is described as being “equal parts wildlife refuge, ecological and hydrological conservatory, natural trail and just plain natural wonder.”

In addition to earning clock hours to fulfill license renewal requirements, students who complete the Realtors’ inaugural Environmental Council class will receive a commemorative T-shirt, photographs and a complimentary supply of pamphlets to help their home buyers and sellers become more earth-friendly. Fees are $99 for SKCAR members and $160 for non-members.

David Crowell, SKCAR’s manager of governmental and public affairs, said the roll-out of The Realtors Environmental Council culminates a two-year planning and research effort. The intent is to have an entity within SKCAR that focuses on the advocacy and advancement of sound environmental public policies and undertakings “that will protect and enhance the quality of life in Washington’s communities.

Crowell said the organization, which will be registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, will operate to:
1. raise awareness and understanding of Realtors’ sensitivity to, and support of well-grounded and responsible stewardship;
2. engage in projects that provide "on-the-ground" benefits for the environment.
3. undertake the advancement of important environmental policies, and/or environmental projects that other environmental organizations have failed to undertake.

The upcoming “Emerging Urban Environments” course is the first in a series of educational offerings TREC will present on environmental and sustainability issues related to regulation, conservation, enhancement and remediation that affect the utilization and development of real property.

About Course Instructor John Spangenberg
Spangenberg is president of Urban Connections, a real estate/urban planning and government relations firm in Kirkland. His teaching experience includes graduate and undergraduate courses in urban design and planning at the University of Washington, as well as numerous classes for real estate industry professionals. He recently taught “Cities & Communities—Change and Growth,” a course offered as part of Sustainable September, a green learning program presented by several Eastside business, government, and education communities.

Spangenberg’s professional background encompasses planning and management roles in both the public and private sectors.

The long-time Eastside resident has degrees in architecture, urban planning and public administration.

The Seattle-King County Association of REALTORS®, based in Bellevue, has more than 8,800 members, including licensed brokers, agents and affiliated businesses. As one of approximately 1,600 local associations/boards that comprise the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), SKCAR promotes members’ adherence to a strict Code of Ethics and engages in matters at all levels of government that affect homeownership. REALTOR® membership is voluntary, and only members may use the term REALTOR®, which is a licensed collective trademark.

FOR INFORMATION David Crowell, JD, Director of Governmental & Public Affairs, 425-974-1011