Yesterday, I got an email detailing the schedule for next weekend’s Green East Conference/Architectural Digest Home Show and a certain something leapt off the page at me: A 25-minute session, “A World of Sustainability Solutions for Everyday Living,” led by PJ Stafford, the CEO and co-founder of Green Irene.

It was as if the Wizard of Oz had just stepped out from behind the curtain to reveal himself. Green Irene, a mysterious company whose adverts I’ve seen festooned across the green blogosphere but never investigated, is a real person … kind of.

So now I have the chance to see the man, an eco-consultant with a Harvard Business School MBA, behind the ubiquitous ad banners. But with the identity of “Irene” settled, I still don’t know what exactly Green Irene is. An eco-friendly maid service? A home energy audit firm? “Irene” appears to be leaping blissfully in the company logo … could it be a natural health food chain?

I was wrong. Green Irene is a New York-based green home (and office) consultancy with a network of trained and certified “Eco-Consultants” across the country (not sure if any of them respond to “Irene.”) For an introductory rate of $99, a "Local Green Irene” will visit your home or apartment to perform a 60 to 90 minute Green Home Makeover. What does this entail? Basically, the makeover involves recommendations on how to save money, water, and energy, some product pushing, and referrals to sustainable contractors in the area. It gets a bit more complex, but that’s the gist of it.

As frequently as I see ads for the actual Green Irene service, I see ads recruiting Green Irene "Eco-Consultants." This is where things get tricky. The local "Eco-Consultants" are trained online and work as independent direct salespeople, earning income from the Green Home Makeovers and via commission from products sold during the house calls and at conferences. So wait, is this Avon or the environment we’re dealing with?

Naturally, I’m skeptical of a service that revolves around someone visiting you at home and trying to sell you something — in this case, CFL bulbs and water conservation kits — on commission. Environmentalism aside, the basic concept of Green Irene is like any other business that revolves around the direct sales model: the independent salespeople try to save you money while making a bit of extra money themselves. 

So what do you think? Would you, or have you, solicit(ed) a house call from a local Green Irene (or Bob or Tammy)? Does Green Irene provide a service that you would consider essential? Or would you rather just spend some time researching independently and then do the legwork yourself?

Personally, I’m leaning towards the latter. Although this isn’t Amway or a Tupperware party, I just don’t know if I would feel comfortable having “Irene” tell me what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong and then suggest I buy a 2-pack of Nellies Dryer Balls. 

I like that Green Irene is trying to pump life into the new green economy, save the planet, and raise awareness all at the same time. But in the end, I’m not sure if I buy into it. Do you?

Read more about Green Irene and other eco-consultant firms at the Wall Street Journal.

Image: GreenIreneLLC

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Ding, dong, Irene calling
Seen all the ads offering the consulting services of Green Irene? Who exactly is this green guru-ess, and should you let her into your home?