Monday, January 4, 2010

Greener Stock available for builders next week

A store that bills itself as the first in Cincinnati to specialize in building supplies made from recycled or rapidly renewable materials is set to open on January 12 in Columbia Tusculum.

Greener Stock, located at 3528 Columbia Parkway, is the concept of architect Heather E. Curless, a South Carolina transplant who specializes in residential remodeling work.

Her store will feature sustainable finishes such as flooring, countertops, light bulbs and paint; consulting, design and permitting services; and waste management and contractor referrals.

"There are some really interesting products out there that we're trying to display," Curless says.

One such product is a line of plasma-induction light bulbs from Blue Ash-based DayLeit, an electrodeless lamp pioneered by Nikola Tesla that lasts much longer and uses much less energy than even compact fluorescent bulbs.

Another featured product, which can be seen near Greener Stock's cash/wrap area, is a Kirei board wood substitute made from reclaimed sorghum straw.

Every item not kept in stock will be available for special-order, and the idea is to source all products locally, Curless says.

"As much as possible, definitely," she says. "We're trying to look at it from a regional perspective."

'Going to be huge'

Curless first started hearing about green building during graduate school in Seattle nine years ago.

"There were some firms there that were working in sustainable projects, but the product was not there," she says.

She came back to Cincinnati and worked at Cole + Russell Architects (now CR Architecture + Design) for a couple of years before starting her own practice, doing mostly residential remodels.

Lookout Terrace, a development of detached townhomes on Athens Avenue, has been her largest project to date.

"I've been kind of thinking about this concept for a year and a half to two years, and then sat for the LEED exam last year," Curless says. "After going through that process, it made a lot more sense to be able to provide something like this locally. And then, once I did more research, I realized that Columbus has a store, and Louisville has a store, and Indy has a store – so it wasn't something that anyone had not heard of."

She originally looked at the Madison Road corridor – specifically Oakley – for a location, but opted for Columbia Tusculum after seeing a sign declaring the building available.

"We were initially very focused on Oakley because of the good traffic," Curless says. "But I noticed the sign on this building, and the storage, loading and parking were big factors. We're in a location that's going to be huge for us."

Building a market

Curless envisions a broad market for her products and services, especially with Cincinnati's LEED tax abatement and the cachet of the LEED label.

"I think it's going to come from a couple of different directions," she says. "Definitely, I'm going to work the architect/developer end of things. A lot of the inquiries I've gotten are from people who are interested in creating their environments more naturally. People who have been afflicted with asthma, or autism, or that sort of thing and feel like it's an environmental issue, so they're looking for natural products to put in their spaces."

Curless will work with one part-time employee to start, and tentatively plans hours of 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Her goal is to get the doors open and get a few projects under her belt, which will help finance even more displays and materials.

"It may be kind of sparse in the early stages, but we'll be building on it as we go, as we learn about more products," Curless says.