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“I want to get ‘green’ products out there. I’m tired of hearing about people who are sick. I’m tired of going to funerals. I’m tired of the way we do things. I want to make a difference, if it’s a gallon at a time, or a ceiling tile at a time.” The speaker is Karen Halo, a partner, with Audra Frank, of Frankly Green, Plainfield-based consultants who work with builders, developers, architects, contractors and designers to incorporate “green” standards into their projects.

“What we do is help them get the price points so they can put ‘green’ into their buildings,” Halo says. “For instance, I can point at that paint and ask, ‘what are you paying per gallon?’ And I can say, ‘what if I switch that to a paint that has no VOCs, no off-gassing and is better for indoor air quality. I will help them spec the job, shop it out and guarantee that it’s drop-shipped to the site, because we’ve heard of situations where there’s a bait-and-switch.”

How did it get started? “My partner and I both lost significant people in our lives to cancer,” explains Halo, a 20-year marketing vet in real estate. “Our thought was, ‘what are we doing to aggravate it? What are we doing in our buildings to make things worse’?”

Two years ago, they began to try to find answers, first concentrating on paints—Frank had a paint contracting business. “We saw a lot of ailments in the business due to product,” Halo recalls. “So we started researching. We started with paints and wall treatments and solvents, and now we can spec out interior ceiling squares and other materials.”

What’s the response been? “Unbelievable. People are picking up the phone, opening their doors and saying, ‘bring it on’,” Halo says.”It’s nice to see people stepping up, taking responsibility and looking at healthy alternatives instead of just the bottom line.

“We have contracts with warehouses up and down the East Coast to store the products,” she continues. “Builders have to use products within 500 miles to get their LEED certification. We have these warehouses all over so we can keep them in mileage compliance.”

What kind of projects is Frankly Green working on? “Right now we’re spec-ing out three jobs for three major developers,” Halo says. “They’re office and industrial projects. “We’re also meeting with a major homebuilder to start spec-ing these products into residential. What we’ll also do with the architect’s or builder’s specs is bring them products depending on the level of LEED they’re working toward. If they’re working on gold or silver certification, we’ll recommend products that can knock up their points.”

In terms of gaining knowledge, “we belong to the Green Building Council, we go to seminars, we read, go on the Internet, just pay attention and learn,” Halo relates. “The knowledge is there. We also work with the manufacturers, learn the products inside and out, learn cost comparisons. The biggest thing I want people to know is there are price points out there to do what you need to accomplish to get a building up and to get to your bottom line, but you can also do it with sustainability in mind,” Halo says. “Everybody’s so caught up with the notion that, ‘if it’s green, it’s got to be four times the price.’ What I want people to know is, no, it isn’t. We can find stuff and we can work with manufacturers, and we can beat them up for you. That price notion is something I want to dispel.”

Besides a healthier work environment, there’s an added market-related benefit for developers and owners. “You can change an office environment,” Halo concludes. “You can put a coating on commercial carpet so it doesn’t out-gas anymore. You can put a sealant on existing paint. Ultimately, what we’re telling people is that this is how you can market your property.”

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