Homeowners don’t have to put shiny solar panels on the roof or buy a Tesla Powerwall to store that solar energy to reduce energy consumption.
Truth is, adding insulation and a smart thermostat can make an environmental impact without breaking the bank.
“The future’s going to be less toxic, more sustainable, and more beautiful.”
A panel that included TreeHouse CEO Jason Ballard and other home experts discussed the subject Thursday at the grand opening for the home improvement retailer’s Plano store.
Ballard talked about the average home being one of the biggest consumers of energy and water while also being a toxic environment.
“We can absolutely do something about it,” Ballard said. “Your home is the place where you have maximum power to affect your world. You’re standing in the future of retail right now. The future’s going to be less toxic, more sustainable, and more beautiful.”
“We’re doing a lot of work on material health and a lot of research into toxic chemicals, what’s going into all of our buildings.”
Meredith Hunt, technical coordinator with Perkins + Will and past chair of the American Institute of Architects Dallas Committee on the Environment, talked about sustainability and consumption.
“Perkins & Will prides itself on being one of the top sustainable firms in the world,” Hunt said. “We’re doing a lot of work on material health and a lot of research into toxic chemicals, what’s going into all of our buildings.”
For instance, smart plugs that are WiFi enabled can help homeowners track energy usage on appliances or televisions, giving them an understanding of how much energy products use when they aren’t in use, Hunt said.
PLANO STORE IS FIRST SUBURBAN STORE FOR TREEHOUSE
The 35,000-square-foot TreeHouse store is the third for the Austin-based environmentally conscious home improvement retailer. The location at Preston Road and Park Boulevard is the first suburban store. The Dallas location opened at U.S. 75 and Walnut Hill last year.
Expect more announcements from TreeHouse by the middle of this year, including a third North Texas store. The company also is planning to expand in the Austin area and build its first locations in San Antonio and Houston. On top of that, TreeHouse is opening its first location outside Texas.
TreeHouse faces a monumental task of luring people away from the traditional big box home improvement stores in favor of a cozy store with responsibly sourced products.
“An inch of education goes a million miles as far as decision making.”
TreeHouse fills its stores with expert consultants who can install flooring, cabinets, solar panels, smart home technology, and educate consumers on why their products are different.
“If the Dallas store is any indication at all, we are proving that if you own a home you should be at TreeHouse,” Ballard said. “This isn’t a niche. We do take this very educational approach. An inch of education goes a million miles as far as decision making. We tell people the things they can’t unhear.”
For example, the paint sold at TreeHouse is non-toxic.
“Once you know it has toxins in it, you can never forget that,” Ballard said.
BEHIND THE DESIGN OF THE NEW TREEHOUSE
TreeHouse took over an old Sports Authority location at the south end of the Preston Park Colonnade shopping center.
The opportunity to locate next to Whole Foods was too good to pass up, Ballard said. Not to mention the amount of houses, both new and old, in Plano and surrounding cities.
“It’s a homeowners market,” Ballard said.
But converting that retail space into a TreeHouse took some serious retrofitting.
Unlike the Dallas store, which was designed and built from the ground up as a new structure, the Plano location had to have entire brick walls torn down to let in natural light.
There were 69 4-foot by 4-foot holes punched in the roof for skylights. And the entire roof was peeled off on one end to create the outdoor area where rain capture barrels and other sustainable garden products are sold. The Dallas store has its own solar panel system that makes it a net zero retailer. The Plano store doesn’t have its own solar panels.
Both stores were designed by Lake Flato Architects based in Austin.
“Those of us who are builders better start making our homes millennial friendly.”
“One of their big deals is blurring the lines between being inside and outside and reconnecting buildings with nature,” Ballard said. “It was a fun challenge of how do you take a vanilla big box and make it an award-winning building?”
All the brick that was removed from the storefront was carefully pulled off so it could be reclaimed and reused either by TreeHouse or another tenant in the shopping center.
This attention to detail and sustainability appeals to consumers, especially younger ones.
Robbie Briggs, president and CEO of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, emphasized the importance of building homes smart from the start.
“People are caring more about the guts of their house,” Briggs said. “Those of us who are builders better start making our homes millennial friendly.”
Photos by Merissa De Falcis.
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