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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.”

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News about the Economic Stimulus is everywhere, but the big question on everyone’s mind is “What does it mean for me?” At the 2009 Houston Home Show, March 20-22 at the George R Brown Convention Center, homeowners can learn how a few changes to their home can mean big credits on April 15, 2010.

Instead of searching through the thousands of pages of the stimulus bill, visitors to the Houston Home Show can browse the aisles, talk to local companies, and in most cases, see the products in action. At the end of the day, consumers can walk away with knowledge about the product, exact costs and how it will benefit their tax bill.

Energy efficiency is the key when it comes to the new tax credits. Items that comply with the requirements stated in the stimulus can be written off under a single tax credit—for 30% off each items cost, up to $1,500. Tax credits you earn on all the energy efficient home improvement items are cumulative, and are capped at a maximum $1,500 for all the energy efficient improvements combined.

Click “read more” to see more details and a few of the items included on the stimulus that can be found at the Houston Home Show: Read more

TEDA Symposium: How do we measure Houston’s sustainability progress across public, private, and nonprofit programs?
Thursday, March 12, 2009 ~ 8 am-12 pm ~ Federal Reserve Bank, 1801 Allen Pkwy.
Moderator David Crossley, President, Houston Tomorrow
The Hon. Peter Brown, City of Houston Council Member and Chair of the City’s Sustainable Growth Committee
Cris Eugster, Ph.D., Chief Officer for Sustainable Growth, Mayor’s Office, City of Houston
Adam Saphier, Principal, Trammell Crow Company
Amanda Timm, Executive Director, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
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forGreen Marketing & Design is a strategic marketing and design firm who offers its clients the opportunity to take a leadership position in the eco and healthy living movement through strategic brand positioning and coordinated campaigns utilizing the latest interactive technologies.  forGreen’s offers a harmonious mix of web communications, social media marketing, public relations, support collateral, as well as viral resourcing and strategic networking. Their primary mission is to accelerate the process of positive social and environmental change by helping market those who share the same vision. Their website is and owner/speaker Mary Frances Blatchley can be connected to on twitter: maryfrancesb, yahoo: mfb0404 and at Linked In. Welcome to New Living Mary! Find out more about New Living Coworking.

painting with yolo paint

Given the current economic crisis we all need to be resourceful. We are asking for our friends and customers to help us get open. We will be painting our store this weekend (2/14 and 2/15) and if you are in the area, we would love for you to stop by and help out. We will start at 10:00am on Saturday and Sunday. If you can be there on either of those days,  lunch is on us, we will give you some store credit, and of course, we will be using our non-toxic paint. Lets have fun with this!

If you are familiar at all with the store and the wonderful people who work inside, you may have noticed a new addition to the team. That new addition would be me, Megan McPherson, and I have been serving as New Living’s merchandising intern for about a month now. The staff at New Living has taken on the task of not only starting a new business but also teaching someone completely foreign to their business all of the ropes… what a load! In the coming months I will be helping New Living maintain and display their store merchandise while also assisting in the big move into our newly finished and fabulous store!

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Rendering of Mirabeau B. Condos, 2410 Waugh Dr., Hyde Park, Montrose, Houston

On the corner of Waugh and Hyde Park in Houston, Texas, Joey Ramano of Harvest Moon Development has adapted a 20-foot shipping container into a sustainable “green” design for the offices of Mirabeau B. Condominiums. Powered by the solar panels, their last energy bill was NEGATIVE $193.

Their proposed 14 unit condo development boasts an array of sustainable design components from green screens and roofs to energy efficient HVAC systems and a water retention system. The developers are aiming for LEED-Silver rating.

New Living provided the bamboo floors and non-toxic paint for the shipping container.

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Learn more about the development, Mirabeau B.

In a recent article in the Chronicle it was reported that of the nearly 1,000 LEED professionals in Houston, and estimated 10 percent are commercial real estate brokers, and that number will double in the next five years.

“LEED AP,” the professional designation synonymous with the green building industry, is most often found on business cards of architects, engineers and construction professionals.

The label stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional. The designation is granted by the U.S. Green Building Council, which has a related program where buildings earn LEED certification for energy efficiency.

But commercial real estate brokers are now adding the initials to their signatures, too, in hopes of standing out in a competitive industry hard hit by the national recession.


american-clayThis Wednesday, New Living Green Home and Supply Co. will be offering a free class for American Clay. This is a wonderful product that you can apply to your walls in place of paint or plaster. It’s great for Houston’s climate, mildew and mold resistant, and a fun product to play around with. It also absorbs odor, sound, and moisture, and repels dust. Being that New Living is about a month away from our official opening, we will be putting you to work! The class and demo will take place as we are installing American Clay on our own walls. Space is limited so please email if you are interested. We will start at 9:00am and go until the end of the business day. You can join for any part, but we would recommend staying for at least a few hours to get the most out of it. Hope to see you Wednesday!


New Living was featured on today’s airing of Great Day Houston. Jennifer and I spent 12 minutes speaking with Deborah Duncan about how our products help to create healthier, cleaner, safer homes. We presented some of our green cleaning products, paint, and organic bedding to help you go green at home. To be showcased on the show is just another reminder that Houston cares about its well-being and its impact on our planet. We gave each audience member a sample of our home made laundry detergent, and let Deborah relax on one of our organic mattresses.  Deborah did a wonderful job of capturing what New Living is all about.  She is even planning to come by the store to get some non-toxic paint for her home!