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about austin green build a family tradition

Austin Green Build is a 3rd generation building and construction company founded in 1925 by Bernie and Irene Willhoite on farm land in the East Austin Neighborhood that Irene continued to cultivate late into her life. Since its founding, two generations of owners, Don Willhoite and Laura Culin, were born on the company site, which features the family home along with the Austin Lumber/Austin Green Build Operations Center, supply warehouses and the Phoenix Trades Depot tucked into he southwest intersection of East 5th Street and Pedernales.

Austin Green Build represents a long line of traditions, community engagement and innovation in the construction industry. In 1995, Laura Culin bought Austin Green Build’s parent company, Austin Lumber Company, from her father, Don Willhoite. Shortly thereafter, Laura opened Austin Green Build and saw it become the first Austin business to be licensed for Green Building operations. To this day, an operation that is one of only, a handful of Green Building operations that are women owned. While Austin Green Build’s primary focus is on assisting building professionals in the use of Green-Build materials and supplies in the commercial sector, it has kept to its roots by continuing to operate the walk-in hardware store, a family tradition that runs 86-years and continues to deliver one-on-one service that is rare to find in today’s self ‘service’ retail stores. It’s owners have maintained the philosophy that one board or, one truck load of lumber, should receive the same friendly and knowledgeable service that starts without you having to stop to ask for help, and ends with great value on all your material needs. Austin Green Build has also maintained a long track record of community giving and involvement through our work with organizations like People Fund and the Austin ‘Go Local Card’ program. It also has a reputation of hospitality, owner Don Willhoite being known as ‘Grandpa Don’ to neighborhood kids he would make wooden toys for. Laura Culin, known for hosting barbeques, extending ‘internships’ to at-risk youth from the neighborhood and, opening the Austin Green Build operations center for use by its East Austin Neighbors.

Beyond offering innovative Green Building products and services, Austin Green Build works to foster opportunities for other sustainable startup businesses. After a fire set by an arsonist destroyed most of the original operational structures in 2005, Laura Culin envisioned a new site that featured community and ‘craft/trade’ studio spaces. On the land that Irene used to farm, you can now find the Phoenix Trades Depot, a sustainable business incubator that offers members secure studio spaces, use of the operations center, as well as access to advisors and consultants to help members grow their sustainable operations and become successful entrepreneurs. When you choose Austin Green Build, your purchase will not just help you save money and increase your energy efficiency, it will also help us support other sustainable business operations and historically underserved and/or underutilized businesses. At Austin Green Build, we don’t just offer a product/service model, we deliver on a sustainable operations philosophy that is designed to make a lasting impact.

about laura culin, president of austin green build

Laura Culin serves as President/CEO of Austin Lumber and Austin Green Build both registered with the City of Austin as a WBE/HUB & DBE organizations. She has over 20 years of experience in construction and she works hands-on and side by side with her employees. Thus, her experience is very diverse and ranges from the operation of mill equipment, purchasing, estimating, budgeting, accounting, and over all operations of the company.
     Laura is a featured speaker and writer relating to micro-small businesses, promoting women in construction, and sustainable green build products as well as an undaunting advocate of sustainable building and operational practices. Laura has also received the Congressional Medal of Distinction Award by President Bush in 2006.      After receiving her Associate Degree in Marketing/Retail Purchasing from Bauder College in Arlington, TX, she transferred to Austin Community College to study drafting. Following her passion to learn the “business” led her to the AGC Construction Management Program where upon completion she will earn a CM Degree. Success has never eluded her, in 1998 she bought Austin Lumber Company from the family, making her the third generation to own company.


Congressional Medal of Distinction * Member Awarded by President Bush in 2006
Austin Energy Green Building Program * Member Certified

Forest Stewardship Council * FSC International Certified

National Association of Women - Business Owners * NAWBO Member

National Association of Self-Employed * Member

Building Industry Career Alliance * Served on Advisory Board

US Green Build Council * Member, Central Texas Green Builder Council

ACC-Construction Advisory Board * Appointed

Big Austin - People Fund

City of Austin Mentor-Protégé Program * Mentor

Construction Gateway of Austin Community College * Mentor

East Austin Business Owners Association * Founder 1992

Star of Texas Rodeo / BBQ Committee * Scholarship Fund

Worksource Alliance * Advisory Council Member

Austin Green Build Memberships & Certifications

Austin Green Build is a proud member of the following organizations, each, leaders in their respective areas of focus in the construction industry. Please take a moment to introduce yourself to and visit their websites to learn more.

certified austin energy green builder

The City of Austin created the nation’s first green building program in 1990. Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) is now the nation's most successful sustainable building program. AEGB encourages Central Texans to design and construct more sustainable homes and buildings and links them to organization, resources and programs to help them achieve just that. With the mission to lead the transformation of the building industry to a sustainable future, Austin Energy Green Building Program has developed and maintains its own rating systems which we employ to pave the way for energy and building code changes that will reduce building energy use. To learn more, visit AEGB Program Website

Member, National Association of Women in Construction

In 55 years of service to its membership, the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) has advanced the causes of all women in the construction industry, from tradeswomen to business owners. Today, NAWIC hosts 4,500 members with 167 chapters across the United States and offers a variety of educational programs in addition to business development services to improve the standing of women in the construction industry. In addition to member services, NAWIC hosts a yearly conference, awards the yearly winner of the Crystal Vision Prize and oversees the publication of the official NAWIC magazine, The NAWIC Image. For more information visit

member, us green build council

U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. Composed of 78 local affiliates, USGBC hosts 16,000 individual, corporate and organization members. In addition to its member base, USGBC has certified more than more than 170,000 LEED Professionals, a unique Green Build Certification program that tests and certifies green build professionals whose work to create energy efficient buildings drives $130 Billion dollars a year into the US economy and, whose continued industry growth, holds the potential to create 2.5 million US Jobs that cannot be exported. To learn more about USGBC, visit

certfied fsc member

FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, is a global consensus organization that convenes and effects solutions through democratic process. As a multi-stakeholder organization, FSC applies the directive of its membership to develop forest management and chain of custody standards, deliver trademark assurance and provide accreditation services to a global network of committed businesses, organizations and communities. FSC certification provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products and enables consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions to positively impact the people and the environment. For more information, visit

Austin Green Build | 2415 East 5th St. Austin, Texas 78702
Phone: 1-866-702-9918 | E-Mail: info at

Member: Forest Sustainability Council | US Green Build | National Association of Women in Construction
Recognized by the City of Austin as a Historically Underutilized Business
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