Get a glimpse of buildings of the future with Dallas’s revolutionary energy-positive big-box store

by Brianna Crandall — June 21, 2017 — Facilities managers (FMs) who are interested in how buildings of the future will save energy should take a look at this new retail store in Dallas, Texas, where TreeHouse, the so-called “revolutionary” home improvement company focused on making homes beautiful, healthy, and sustainable for everyone, has just officially opened its doors for business. The TreeHouse Dallas location is claimed to be the first “energy-positive” big-box store in the world, meaning the store will generate excess renewable energy using solar panels, battery packs, and cutting-edge architectural design, then send unused energy back into the city grid.

Jason Ballard, TreeHouse CEO and co-founder, stated:

It is existentially urgent that our buildings not harm either ecological or human health. This building is an unbelievably important milestone for both the retail and architectural communities to show in grand fashion that buildings can be beautiful and human-centered in their design and also be positive contributors to people, communities, and nature. This building sets a completely new standard for ecological and human health and is an embodiment of what our company hopes to accomplish for homes as well.

TreeHouse says it is disrupting the $1 trillion per year industry of home improvement. Ballard explained:

The model of retail as essentially a warehouse full of products is under tremendous threat and pressure. What we have done is imagine our company as a hub for the whole experience and journey of home improvement. To that end, we have turned up design, education, experience, service, and technology to max volume. This store is a signpost that points to what the future will be like for both homes and retail.

We asked ourselves what a home improvement store would look like if it were an answer to the question, ‘What is needed to actually help people make their homes better in every way?’ and everything else flowed from there. Working under the guidance of our mission and core principles, we are reinventing home improvement. We have curated different and better products, materials, and technologies. We have designed turn-key, high-quality services and programs, such as kitchen and bath design, solar energy outfits, home insulation and weatherization, comprehensive smart home installation, and more. We hire the best people. We educate, inspire, and collaborate. This is home improvement as it should have been all along.

TreeHouse Dallas is the anchor tenant in The Hill redevelopment, a North Dallas shopping center being revived, refreshed, and repositioned by CAPREF Manager, LLC. The Hill is emerging as Dallas’ premier open-air retail center that also features a new slate of award-winning dining, home and healthy-living concepts.

The Road to Energy-Positive

Award-winning architecture firm Lake | Flato used TreeHouse’s approach to product and materials selection and worked at the “bleeding-edge” of building science and sustainable design to bring the energy-positive store-of-the-future to life.

Lewis McNeel, AIA, project architect, Lake | Flato, commented:

We are proud to be a part of this landmark moment in building design. The TreeHouse team are ideal architectural collaborators. They brought to the table some very, very high technical and aesthetic aspirations for their new Dallas store and then challenged us to design one of the most sustainable buildings in the world. This is a building that will be studied and talked about for a long time.

Ballard added:

There are only a handful of commercial buildings in the world at this level. We’re talking about something that only a few years ago might have seemed nearly impossible to pull off. For so long net-zero energy was this magical aspirational goal. This building is beyond net-zero… completely new territory.

TreeHouse and Lake | Flato were able to accomplish this by:

  • Monitoring the Austin location to set a baseline of electricity consumption to model expected energy use of the Dallas location;
  • Quantifying how much electricity could be saved through the use of daylight, LED lighting, and heat load reduction tactics;
  • Designing features such as South-facing saw-tooth roofs oriented to maximize the effectiveness of a giant rooftop solar array. This notable building feature solved the need for extra space for solar panels. In addition, the North-facing windows allow for indirect sunlight without the impact of direct heat, allowing for a cooler baseline temperature for the store; and
  • Utilizing a Tesla Powerpack to store and deploy the energy generated from the ultra-high efficiency SunPower solar array.

Ultimately, the unique and strategic store design, paired with on-site solar energy and battery storage systems, is able support the new store’s power needs and has allowed the store to be “energy-positive” and to provide any excess renewable energy back into the grid.

The Dallas TreeHouse provides “progressive products, great design, human-centered services, and leading-edge technology.” Photos of the new project and explanations of the technology behind it are available in this Architect magazine article: “Lake|Flato Designs a Not-So-Big-Box Home Improvement Store.”