The plan was for a company like no other that would help the uninformed and overwhelmed feel their way through a swirl of evolving green technologies, including devices that monitor energy consumption, carbon calculators, solar panels, and conservation-oriented trash cans.
The company also would assist those consumers - businesses, government leaders, school officials, and homeowners - in snaring rebates, grants, and loans to offset the price of going green.
To build the kind of understanding necessary to achieve public buy-in of a sector that remains a big unknown, the company would also educate.
"I think I was hung over," Lockwood joked recently about his morning of inspiration.
But unlike a hangover, his affliction did not pass. Within a month, Lockwood, 44, a father of two from Philadelphia, had left Gallup and founded princetongreen.org.
It is a virtual company with no headquarters, no debt, and no products of its own to sell. With a sales staff of 50 (which he hopes to increase to 100 by October) spread across the country, princetongreen.org's mission is to guide consumers to the best products delivering them optimum energy savings.
In the process, certain green businesses, most of which are in their infancy, would get the exposure, and the customers, they need to thrive.
Consider princetongreen.org a cross between a matchmaker and a seal of approval.
"The organization represents the framework for like-minded entrepreneurs to work collaboratively," Lockwood said.
Why take a New Jersey college town as its namesake?
For one, that is where much of Lockwood's Gallup work in behavioral economics took place. Plus, he said, "Princeton in and of itself has a very strong brand affiliation: intellectual, liberal, open-minded thinking."
Ralph Cavanagh had not heard of princetongreen.org until a reporter contacted him last week. Based in San Francisco, Cavanagh is energy program director for the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council.
At first, he was unimpressed, thinking princetongreen.org sought to be yet another green-products quality assessor in what Cavanagh said was already "a fairly crowded field."
His enthusiasm grew when he heard about everything else the company is offering.
"I'm not aware of anyone else who does it," he said. "There are plenty of people who would love to have one number to call" for help on decisions that have many people "tearing their hair out."
Doing much of the vetting of the vendors princetongreen.org decides to recommend is cofounder Jason Ulshafer, a 31-year-old electrical engineer from West Chester.
Ulshafer and princetongreen.org's business adviser, David Welsh of Downingtown, met at Drexel University, when Ulshafer was getting his executive master's degree in business administration. At the time, Welsh was running Drexel's executive-education program, which Lockwood helped develop while at Gallup, where he specialized in higher education.
A Drexel connection also helped princetongreen.org land a Florida residential developer as a client. Jay C. Lewis, president and founder of Surrey Homes near Orlando, had gone through the Drexel M.B.A. program with Ulshafer. After 10 years working around here for Ryan Homes, Lewis headed to Florida to start his own home-building company in January 2007. He kept in touch with Ulshafer.
Given that part of the Surrey Homes business model is "sustainable solutions for the customers," teaming with princetongreen.org "was a no-brainer," Lewis said.
It is a two-way relationship: Lewis provides princetongreen.org with insights on the residential-construction market, and the firm steers him to energy-efficient products.
Among them is a KEC unit, a device that recaptures and recycles energy that passes through a home's electric meter but that is not used. Lewis said he planned to install the $700 units in every house he builds once Florida's battered real estate market recovers.
Closer to home, the Phoenixville Area School District has princetongreen.org guiding the search for ways to pare its energy consumption and its bills. Most immediately, that would involve installation of solar panels on the high school roof at a cost of $500,000.
But first, the district is relying on princteongreen.org to find some grants to pay for it all, said William Gretton, the district's acting business administrator.
Princetongreen.org's start was a "self-funded venture," Lockwood said. An "angel investor" is being sought to fund branding, marketing, and growth, including a division to make movie sets environmentally friendly.
"I believe this is the next Internet boom," Lockwood said, "but I believe this is one that's not going away."
Contact staff writer Diane Mastrull at 215-854-2466 or firstname.lastname@example.org.