Long thought of as an alternative lifestyle, a fad among the eccentric or just expensive; recent technology advances and smart building techniques have made sustainable, environmentally friendly homes available for all.

Green is a rather ordinary word with a rather arbitrary definition. Like pornography, it’s sometimes tough to explain, but you know it when you see it. Luckily, there are more than a few businesses out there that exist solely to expand on the idea. More than just a movement, these places are here to ensure that green living is here to stay.

Equitable Sotheby’s International Realty (ESIR) now has a green division of their own. Dubbed EcoBrokers and lead by directors David Newcombe and Claudia Biondi, this group makes a living selling homes that focus on sustainable building techniques, low or no toxin materials and energy-saving appliances that are good for the pocketbook and the environment.  They also promise a LEED-certified residential building is on its way to downtown Phoenix soon.

It’s long been thought it was more expensive to build green, similar to the way organic food costs more than the store brand at area supermarkets. While the initial price to build green is currently 8 to 10% higher, that savings can be offset by lower utility bills, a natural consequence of having more efficient, better performing homes.

Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc., are known for helping create affordable homes for residents of all income types. In the past, this meant less expensive materials in order to keep costs down. According to Vice President John Ramirez, they no longer have those kind of restrictions. With green materials now hovering so close to traditional material prices, the reduced cost of living in the house will about even out. Don’t think Ramirez and company are in the business of luxury development, either. Their latest development in south Phoenix consists of affordable family homes including dual panes windows to keep the heat out in the summer and in in the winter, tankless water systems and low and no VOC (volatile organic compound) paint.

So if an affordable builder like the CPLC is going green, why hasn’t everyone else? The answer is simple: lack of knowledge. It’s tough to find green houses and that’s where Newcombe and Biondi come in. As you can see at equitablesir.com, the entire company is committed to going green. “We are the only brokerage in the state to create a division entirely dedicated to servicing the green market, comprised of agents both personally and professionally committed to the cause,” Newcombe said.

ESIR also works with well-established Valley companies like Green Ideas and a.k.a. green to help spread the knowledge of what it really means to be green. Their respective websites (egreenideas.com and akagreen.com) show off all that is eco-friendly. Whether you’re in the market for a new place to live or want to cut your utility bills with new, more efficient appliances, these places are one-stop shops for all the green information available today.

But remember, everyone must do their part. Phoenix has a long way to go before being green is no longer a choice, but a way of life. Whether you live in a 4th floor condo or a home in the desert, it takes all of us to make it work.

John N. Vasitas, chairman of Equitable, walks the talk about green. He is currently working on plans to build an all green luxury timeshare in Arizona. “It just makes sense,” Vatistas said. “Sustainable development, building and living ultimately benefits everyone.”