Austin TreeHouse Fieldtrip

Today the 2 engineering classes walked to our local home improvement store, TreeHouse

Treehouse is an amazing store located in South Austin that focuses on the health of the consumer and the Earth, performance, sustainablility and corporate responsibility. Jason Ballard, one of the founders, gave us an awesome tour of products that could be useful for the restoration of Ventura.   Jason informed us that there is an extensive filtering process each product goes through before it makes it onto the TreeHouse shelves.

Jason Ballard

First we looked at the interior and exterior paint options.  Jason explained the importance of using low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints so that people using the camper are not exposed to harmful fumes emitted by the paint. 

I loved all the informative displays around the store.  The one in the paint section was especially colorful and clarified how choosing the right paint can really make a difference for the environment and to the health of living things.

Next, we visited the flooring section.  Flooring will probably be one of the bigger expenses in Project Ventura, but it is also one that is worth spending the extra money on since the floor on a small, community trailer will most definitley see a lot of traffic!  Jason went over price per square foot, quality, and methods of adhesion.  Floors can either be nailed down, glued down, or “float” on the subfloor, meaning it sits snuggly on top of the subfloor.  I personally liked the linoleum options by Marmoleum.  The colors were vibrant and it looked like it would really stand the test of time.  Marmoleum also seemed to fit in with the year Ventura was made, 1977.  Cork and bamboo were other good options, although neither were around in the 1970’s.

“floating” marmoleum

Next came lighting.  The displays on lighting were by far the most infomative and interactive I’ve ever seen in a home improvement store!  The first display compared incandescent, CFL, and LED lighting options in terms of energy consumption, shelf-life, and light quality.  By pressing a button, you could witness the meters turn as each lightbulb consumed energy.  The LED meter spun extremely slow compared to the traditional incandescent bulb, indicating less energy consumption.  Jason told us that although LED bulbs are generally more expensive, they have a long shelf life (up to 30 years!), and save an enormous amount of energy.  So, although you have to invest more cash at the get-go, LED lighting will end up saving energy and money in the long run.

The next display emphasized the importance of window shades.  By putting your hand against two heat-emitting lamps, one with and one without a window shade, you could literally feel the difference the shade made in blocking heat.


Yuvia and Jennifer feel the heat

Insulation was next on our list.  Jason reviewed what the R-value means when choosing insulation, as well as the different kinds of insulation available.  He suggested an R-value of 13 would be sufficient for Ventura.  Some of the insulation options were quite unusual…recycled blue jeans!


During the last 15 minutes of the field trip, teams were allowed to explore on their own, take pictures, and write down prices for their budget research.  All in all, it was an fantastic fieldtrip that gave teams a good idea of green product rationale and price.

A million thank-you’s to Jason!  If you live in the Austin area, you should definitley visit TreeHouse for your next home-improvement shopping trip!  Keep Austin Local!


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