Green Business Case Study: Home Eco
Home Eco – St. Louis’ Green General Store

Home Eco at the Green Homes and Great Health FestivalUpdate: After a tremendous eight year run, Home Eco closed its doors in February 2013. The owners are pursuing other options and are still firmly committed to green business practices.

Owner Terry Winklemann and partner Phil Judd retrofitted lighting and air conditioning in their City of St. Louis specialty store, in a building they converted for retail sales in 2005. Their energy-saving measures improved display space while cutting utility costs—and demonstrating the Green thinking embodied in their diverse product lines.

Green Measures at Work in this Business:
  • Took out two-thirds of light fixtures in an over-lit space, improving display-space lighting as well as energy efficiency, and cutting utility bills.
  • Replaced ceiling tiles with a post-consumer recycled content tile product in a light color, dropping ceiling height from 12 feet to 9 feet.
    • This 25 percent decrease in ceiling height decreased heating and cooling load, and created a more intimate, congenial-feeling retail space.
  • Removed (and gave away) the building’s second central AC unit.
  • Installed a ductless split-system AC product—which Home Eco sells.
    • This energy-efficient system couples an external compressor with small wall-mounted AC units that can be strategically placed to boost cooling in warmer areas of the building.
  • Sells bulk and refillable cleaning and food-service product lines to commercial customers, helping to boost affordable, regional use of these types of products.
  • Decided on mid-sized windows instead of a full glass-front for street side of the store, to reduce cooling loads while still optimizing natural light.
    • Home Eco’s front door features a flea-market stained glass window.
  • The store’s flat roof is painted white to reflect heat and reduce cooling load and electric bills.
  • Coordinates and promotes public education events, like the 2011 and 2012 Sustainable Backyard Tours and St. Louis Green Drinks.

This Business Has More Green Plans:
  • Would like to install solar panels—using the type of modular photovoltaic (PV) electric system Home Eco sells.
  • Continue to seek out and try lines of sustainable products for home energy and maintenance, as well as gift items—especially items made by local artisans.

Green Ideas Your Business Can Use:
  • Invest in a professional lighting audit to evaluate the efficiency—and effectiveness—of lamps and fixtures. Over-lighting, and poorly placed lighting, wastes utility dollars and can compromise productivity.
  • Make use of government and utility company incentives to offset the costs of energy-saving retrofit.
  • Paint your business building’s flat roof white with reflective roofing paint.
    • Surface temperature of a reflective roof can be up to 50 degrees cooler than a conventional black flat roof. Light colored shingles or metal roofing products will also reduce your air conditioning energy costs.
  • Network with and cross-promote businesses that share your Green values.

Home Eco owner Terry Winkelmann says: “We’re very conscious of other businesses that sell products like ours. Since we’re a ‘general store,’ we can carry a wide range of items. If another local store specializes in a type of product, we may drop a product line and send customers to that business. A big part of Home Eco’s mission is to build a Green community, which means local cross-promotion.”

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