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n a world where green is marketing’s new goldmine, it’s important to keep an eye on the ball. Store shelves everywhere are awash with household products that claim to be environmentally friendly, but it takes a keen eye to separate the real deal from the fray.

“Make sure the products you are putting in your home are not ‘green washed’,” says Jeff Kaplan, owner of retail store New Living. “It’s important to ask questions when buying materials to find out how a product is actually made, what’s in it, what kind of labor standards are used and how it is transported. That is what we are trying to do with New Living.”

The store, located in historic Wagner’s Hardware, sells everything you might need for an earth friendly home. New Living’s Green concept is a first on Houston’s home improvement retail scene, usually dominated by big box stores. And the timing could not be more impeccable. “Houston is one of the leading cities today for building green commercial buildings. WE ARE JUST STARTING TO SEE A STRONG INTEREST IN GREEN HOMES AND GREEN HOME REMODELING,” say Kaplan, also a commercial real estate broker. About half of New Living’s business comes from working with architects, designers, builders and painters.

In the past, using earth-friendly products and materials often meant lower performance. But that is changing quickly. “The technology behind green products has gotten so good that there really are not any trade-offs today.”