TreeHouse is like Home Depot with a green conscience

Stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot often don’t live up their promise of “home improvement.” After all, if we’re throwing away useful old materials, buying new stuff, and working all weekend just to keep up with the latest trends in design and decor, but the house still leaks like a sieve and gobbles electricity, what’s really being improved?

In 2011, to address this home-nonimprovement issue, environmental consultant Jason Ballard opened a new store called TreeHouse, in Austin, Texas, focused on digs-enhancing projects that make homes more energy-efficient and eco-friendly.This one-stop greening shop provides straightforward guidance and building products that are otherwise only available to professional architects, designers, and construction companies.

The Guardian‘s recent profile of the company sums up the problem TreeHouse tries to tackle:

Currently, customers interested in reducing their electric bill or cutting their carbon footprint are faced with a baffling array of products and options, some of which are outstanding – and many of which are not.

To make matters worse, if customers want accurate, up-to-date information on sustainable products, they usually have to do a lot of research on their own. That combination of limited access and a dearth of information creates hurdles that turn many consumers off.

Demystifying the world of smartening our dumb homes hinges on enlightened employees, so every one of the company’s workers gets 110 hours of training each year. Furthermore, the center of the store — prime product space — is reserved for education and demonstrations. For shoppers in a hurry, TreeHouse offers a simple “better-best-exceptional” performance-scoring system.

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