The Tables are Turned – Erin McKee of Next Project Studio Gets the Scoop on How the Green Gab Started

The Tables are Turned – Erin McKee of Next Project Studio                                                                            Gets the Scoop on How the Green Gab Started

Green Gab


Today things are a little bit different, still at the St. Louis home and garden show with special guest Erin McKee with Next Project Studio. Next Project Studio is an award-winning design-build firm in St. Louis. Today instead of Marla and Tony interviewing Erin, Erin is interviewing Marla and Tony.

 Let’s start with how it all got started with Green Gab, Marla joined a group of women called business women connecting in the St. Louis area which is a paid women’s support group, not just a network meeting to go to. Talking with the founder of the group Kate she opened an idea of podcast packages in the future and Marla thought it would be a great idea! Once everything got up and going Marla was ready too, did her very first podcast over the phone while she was in Oklahoma City and her two guests were in the studio and had a blast. After the first podcast she did seven more and by the 9th one, Tony was on as her co-host. Tony and Marla have known each other years before this through different committees, the fall before the podcast started Marla needed to write an article on technology, so she came in the sound room spent some time there and talked to people to get an idea on different types of technology. Out of that sprung Marla and Tony to meeting up every Tuesday for coffee in the morning and just throwing different ideas out at each other just picking the brain. By that time Kate realized she really wanted to focus on her other business not really the podcast business but by that time Marla and Tony were ready to do it on their own, and Tony met Mike at a podcasting meetup convinced marla that Mike was the one to do this with and have been rocking and rolling 50 episodes later. They are intellectual sparring partners, they don’t always agree 100% on everything and that’s okay.

Where does your passion for sustainability come from?

Tony has a degree in economics from St. Louis University, from where he feels as if he lucked in the industry, not by choice but when he was finishing up with school, he had a job working for a company called Organized Living. Part-time job, building furniture but when he was done with college he happened to get a management job with them and enjoyed the fact he didn’t have to wear a tie every day. Along the way he got discovered as an interior designer, you could tell him your vision of your room and within 10 min he could have it done. He was also in the custom cabinetry industry and had customers come in and say they had allergies to the glues, formaldehyde etc. So they had to experiment with different materials and from there right when he was starting to get into the HBA and the Green Building Council just got started and joined that as well and found his nitch. Since then Tony has been working on his Masters in Sustainability and Environmental Management has a certificate in Energy Management and Emerging Technologies. He enjoys learning more about sustainability from an academic view, but his biggest goal is to use his intellectual abilities to find better ways to use limited resources. It’s all about the search for the next technology. As long as the conversation is what the past was, the future will never be.

Marla starts with her Grandmother being a young woman in the depression and recalls when being around her it was always waste not, want not or use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Because during the depression you had too if you didn’t have it you’d make do. Fast Forward to college when she attended Washington University and Engineering School. Not a big fan of Calculus she needed an engineering degree that didn’t require more Calculus so she could keep her scholarship. So she ended up doing a program called Engineering Public Policy which turned out to be amazing. She gets the degree and an Energy certificate and starts working for IBM doing marketing and sales and doesn’t really get into the Engineering part of things until 10 years into her 15-year stay at IBM. She left IBM while on maternity leave and starts her first company. 4-year experience and it was great but didn’t make it learned so much and decided she wanted to stay home and raise kids. She freelance projects, part-time worker, and outplacement consultant, etc. A friend of hers had an early opportunity to retire from IBM and came to her saying in too young to quit working, what should I do. So they start going through all these business models. They sat on the model that he wanted to start an energy consulting practice. He wanted Marla’s help but she wasn’t ready to leave what she was doing at the time. 6 months later she gets a phone needing her guidance, within a year she came along to help him with marketing and sales to get them moving along. The company is still around and doing great. After everything was rolling, Marla took a break got her credentials, leed AP and started a business called HomeNav which has been morphed over the past couple years with Green Home Coach. It’s really about getting the word out inspiring and educating people on what they can do.

The Green Gab is an educational podcast, Marla, and tony going through a topic, giving people some basic vocabulary and basic concepts and talking about actions where they can start. Marla’s book also picks up on that, It’s not just putting stuff in your house, it’s how you do it. Make sure you have the proper team in place focusing on and understanding the building envelope.


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About the Company

A Everyday Green Home Podcast – Recorded Live at the St. Louis Home & Garden Show 

Don’t forget to go check out our Facebook page for all pictures of this awesome event.

Every week on iTunes and on the Everyday Green Home Podcast, get the gab with us as we share what we’ve done, as well as tips for greening up your home, your job, your family and your life! Get in on the gab for why green matters – to you, your family and friends and your community.
Get Marla’s book Living Green Effortlessly: Simple Choices to a Better HomeFor more information about the show, Marla at or Tony at tpratte@thesoundroom.comI’d love to speak at your next event – for ideas check out my speaking information. Thank you and have a blessed day.