Green Building Retail Store

1. What is a green building retail store?

Think Home Depot or Lowe’s, except that all the products are eco-friendly.  It’s not an exact comparison, but a green building retail store typically sells countertops, cabinets, sinks, paints, plasters, finishes, floors, rugs, carpeting, etc., with the key difference being that all these things are healthy and sustainable products.

To get an idea of the growth of the green building industry, consider that the U.S. Green Building Council was founded in 1993, and now is, by almost any measure (except individual memberships, which is not the model of the U.S.G.B.C.), the largest environmental non-profit organization in the world.  According to the U.S.G.B.C., “the green [building] market
  • was 2% of non-residential construction starts in 2005; 10-12% in 2008; and will grow to 20-25% by 2013
  • comprises 13.4% of the $13.2 trillion U.S. GDP.  This includes all commercial, residential, industrial and infrastructure construction.  New commercial and residential building construction constitutes 6.1% of the GDP.
  • will support 7.9 million U.S. jobs and pump $554 million into the American economy over the next four years (2009-2013).

With this explosive growth, your retail store can capitalize not only on consumer interest but on interest from general contractors, architects, and designers in your area by providing them all the resources (and, potentially, consulting) they need to make their green building or remodeling project a success.

2. What required knowledge or skills are necessary?

Opening a green building retail store requires a person to be intimately acquainted with a wide variety of building/remodeling products, their uses, their strengths and limitations, and their perception by the general public and the contractors who will make up a good part of your customer base.  Retail experience is also quite helpful, as organizing a good showroom is very important to allowing customers to see how beautiful and elegant their homes could look with all sustainable products.  Being able to communicate well with architects as well as contractors as diverse as painters and cabinet installers is not an easy skill to acquire, but it is a crucial one for the success of this business.

3. How much money is required to start?

$$$-$$$$   (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)

4. What is the income potential?

$$$-$$$$$   (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)

5. What is the best location for a green building retail store?

Urban (fair), semi-urban (very good), suburbs (very good), rural (poor).  A key component to your success will be the location of your store.  One of the most important factors cited by eco-entrepreneurs in this field was proximity to other building outlets, even big-box stores, where many customers will spill over to your business as they learn about your offerings.

6.  Three best questions to ask yourself to find out if this business is right for you (if you can answer yes to all three, this business might be for you):

Do you have a background in sustainable construction/remodeling?
Do you know LEED standards fairly well, or better, are you LEED certified?
Is your area one in which a lot of building and/or remodeling is going on?


Interested in starting one in your community? Where do you begin?  What permits do you need?  Who is your target customer?  How do you find them?  What is the best use of your limited advertising dollars?  What’s the best way to attract a great employee or volunteer?  What does an average day look like?  What strategic tips do veteran eco-entrepreneurs suggest for startups like you?

There’s a lot to think about.  Rest easy.  Our mission is to help you succeed, so drop us a line (  We’ll get you a business planning document to get you on your way for ONLY $299!  We also guarantee our work, so if you are not satisfied, you get your money back!*

Take a look at a sample table of contents and a few sample excerpts from similar plans here.   In essence, we’ll provide you the What, When, Where, and How…you provide the Who!

*Subject to the terms of our Licensing Agreement.

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