Forget George Jetson and his robot maid. The watchword for the true home of tomorrow is "sustainability," meaning environmentally friendly products that reduce homeowners' footprints on the planet. Wood pavers that filter rainwater, power systems to store unused solar energy and a super-fast modern composter for recycling kitchen wastes are among the variety of gadgets on display now at NorthPark Center in advance of the opening of eco-friendly building supply store TreeHouse, which is coming to Dallas on June 1.
TreeHouse will open "The Hill" shopping center at Walnut Hill Lane and Central Expressway, but eco-conscious consumers can get a peek at some of its goods in the “Home of the Future” pop-up exhibit.
“For two months, we will convert the NorthPark Center Step Court into a sustainably built, urban oasis incorporating eco-friendly materials, cutting edge technology, native Texas landscaping and educational vignettes on the importance of maintaining a healthy home,” Jason Ballard, the store’s 35-year-old CEO and co-founder, says.
Here’s a rundown of 10 new items changing the home-building industry that will be available at Dallas' TreeHouse.
This naturally curved, hardwood flooring is produced in limited editions sort of like works of art. The manufacturers are thinking outside the trunk and using a non-traditional cut that produces more boards per tree.
Ballard, who has one of the floors in his home, says that compared with straight-cut floorboards, the flooring costs a few dollars more per square foot.“It’s not cheap,” he said. “But it’s far from luxury prices.”
Black Locust Lumber and Paving
Black Locust uses rot-resistant, wood pavers to filter rainwater naturally by allowing it to pass through the paver joints and bio filters. The design maximizes water filtration to reduce runoff pollution. Black Locust pavers help restore groundwater and reduce the heat island effect in cities, which Ballard says typically run 3 to 10 degrees warmer than rural areas.
Rainwater Harvesting Tank
These multi-hundred gallon systems are above-ground models. Ballard says they are a bit different from rain barrels in that they have better pressure. They can also be fitted for filtration for indoor use but are typically used for outdoor water with great results. “People can catch way more water than you realize,” he says.
Tesla Power Wall
This product for storing unused solar energy can also serve as a backup power source. The design can power a two-bedroom home, and Ballard says most people buy more than one. “You can chain up to nine of them together,” he says, and he expects the power walls to be a standard part of homes in the future.
Zera Food Recycler
Dallasites are getting a sneak peek at this recycler, which reduces food waste by transforming unwanted leftovers, including meat and dairy, into fertilizer in 24 hours. It’s a switch from composting, which can take longer and require more space. The fertilizer can then be spread in flowerbeds, gardens or on lawns. Currently, the Zera food recycler unit at NorthPark is one of only two display models in the world, Ballard says.
Nebia Shower Head
This startup raised more than $3 million on Kickstarter with its idea for a shower head designed to use 70 percent less water. It “conserves thousands of gallons of water per year by atomizing droplets to create 10 times more surface area and a spa-like shower experience,” according to TreeHouse’s press release.
Sunpower Solar Panels
While Sunpower are not the only solar panel producers on the block, their panels will be the only brand available at TreeHouse. Ballard says this is because of their efficiency.
PaperStone makes surfaces that are created from recycled paper and non-petroleum resin. According to the company’s website, these American-made products are also warmer to the touch than standard surfaces.
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“Haiku by Big Ass Fans is equipped with handcrafted, Moso bamboo airfoils [aka fan blades] that are aerodynamically designed to create a smooth airflow,” the fan maker’s webpage reads. “They’re very beautiful,” Ballard says of Big Ass’ fans, which are made of sustainable material and can be used in “whoosh mode” for a faux-natural airflow experience. Haiku also makes energy efficient, smart lighting, which Ballard says can be controlled via cell phone.
Knauf EcoFill and EcoBatt insulation
“Sealing up and insulating your house is one of most affordable home improvements you can do,” Ballard says. “And it is also one that had the largest impact.” Ballard describes Knauf insulation as recycled, non-toxic, super affordable, healthy and sustainable. “It’s sort of a unicorn,” he says. “And we’re the only dealer of it in Dallas.
Check out the pop-up “Home of the Future” at NorthPark Center, 8687 N. Central Expressway, through May 31.