Environmental Home Center
When entering the Pacific Northwest, one can’t help but notice the high mountains, gleaming bodies of water and lush forests that take over the landscape. Wilderness outfitters and natural-food stores are nearly equivalent to the number of computer-based companies that overwhelm the area. Quickly one realizes that Northwesterners are passionate about the environment. No wonder transplanted Midwesterners Matthew Freeman-Gleason and his wife, Alison, decided to open the Environmental Home Center in Seattle. The idea had its roots in Gleason’s growing awareness that his work as a carpenter and contractor took a huge toll on the environment and human health. After a year of research, his mission became clear: He was to supply homeowners with affordable, stylish and sustainable products that could perform as well as (or even outperform) conventional ones. At the same time he would maintain equivalent or better prices—therefore beating the notion that sustainable products are expensive. The Environmental Home Center opened its first facility in 1992 and is now located in a 30,000-square-foot showroom and warehouse in downtown Seattle, a far cry from its original 800-square-foot space on an island just outside the city. As the business has grown, so has the number of companies teaming up with it. The store defeats the general misconception that there aren’t many options in sustainable products by offering its consumers choices within categories. Shopping here is basically like going to a “green” Home Depot, and the best part is, you don’t have to live in Seattle to reap the benefits. Online orders are accepted, and the staff answers questions via e-mail. Not all products are on the website yet. However, it is just as easy to phone for samples and other suggestions from the sales experts, who have backgrounds in interior design, environmental science and sustainable materials. Overall, the EHC is a great one-stop shop for the sustainable builder, designer or homeowner on a budget.
Our source for Paperstone, the countertop material we selected for the kitchen in our new home. Despite a devastating fire that destroyed the EHC warehouse, our order was fullfilled with no problem. Our general contractor was able to install the counter surface using regular capentry tools, which was a huge cost savings over Richlite or natural stone.