New Braintree store mixes business with environmental advocacy
Irina Golfman Rosenblum of Belmont has driven as far as Maine searching for environmentally sound materials for her home renovations. But a new store in Braintree might cut her travel time significantly by compiling much of what she needs in one location.
GreenSource Supply and Design, which opened its 9,000-square-foot showroom and store two weeks ago, is the brainchild of owners Robert Botelho Jr. of Canton and James Foster Jr. of Milton. The store specializes in building materials with low environmental impacts, from nontoxic clay-based paints to custom cabinets made of recycled materials to tiles made of recycled glass.
Botelho, 38, and Foster, 29, began talking about opening a store that sold so-called green building materials in February after Botelho said he saw increased demand for the products among customers of a Boston design and construction firm that he ran.
Coupled with the high demand, Botelho found a lack of supply and general knowledge of green materials in the Boston area, making it more difficult to deliver what his customers wanted. Then, in April, Botelho said he saw former Vice President Al Gore’s global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”
“The timing couldn’t have been more appropriate,” Botelho said of seeing the film. “Because if there was a kick in the butt that I needed to make this leap, that certainly was it.”
Using the documentary as inspiration, Botelho and Foster worked to incorporate green principles into nearly every aspect of their business model, even striving to lower the company’s own environmental impact.
In addition to using recycled paper and sipping from washable coffee mugs rather than paper cups, Botelho and Foster hand select distributors and manufacturers based on the greenness of their products and the amount of energy it takes to get that product to Braintree.
Prior to opening, the two traveled around the United States and Canada visiting factories to see how materials, some of which now stock GreenSource’s shelves, were made and weeding out what Botelho refers to as “poser” green companies.
“(They) claim to practice and sell green products when in actuality they’re kind of sliding in on the edge by perhaps using recycled office paper but still using the same chemicals they’ve always used in their product,” Botelho said.
Although such a strict adherence to environmental principles often increases the retail cost of products, Botelho says many of the products come with hidden savings.
Many of the energy systems sold by GreenSource -- including solar-, water- and wind-powered systems -- can lower their owners’ electric bills, as well as make them eligible for state-funded rebates, Foster said. And Botelho said the clay-based paints typically do not require a primer, making up for the slightly higher cost.
“People need to be aware that there are other products out there that are as good, if not better, and at a similar price,” Botelho said. “They need to be able to purchase it and see it and feel it, and that’s what created the need for this establishment.”
To ensure more people get the opportunity to experience green materials themselves, GreenSource is already planning to open two additional retail spaces -- one in Cambridge and another in Newton -- before the end of the year.
“We’re aiming to educate and put out as much information as we possibly can to consumers so they can make a conscious decision in the future,” Botelho said. “We want to make these products as accessible as possible.”
A.J. Bauer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Patriot Ledger