Name: Alex Wilson
Occupation: Executive Editor, Environmental Building News; Founder BuildingGreen, LLC
Place of Residence: Dummerston, Va. (outside Brattleboro)
After working for two nonprofit solar energy organizations in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Alex started his own company, now BuildingGreen, LLC, in 1985. Early on with his company, he did freelance writing for about a dozen magazines on building technology, renewable energy and environmental topics. In 1990, he wrote the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, published by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.
Then in 1992, inspired to focus on green building and not knowing any better, he launched Environmental Building News, the nation’s first newsletter devoted to environmentally responsible design and construction. As the company grew, it launched the GreenSpec Directory of green building products and two websites focused on green building: BuildingGreen.com in 1995 and, in 2009, GreenBuildingAdvisor.com.
Alex served as a director of the U.S. Green Building Council (USBGC) from 2000 through 2005, and he is currently a member of the USGBC Research Committee. In 2008, he received the USGBC Leadership Award for Education.
Alex grew up in Berwyn, Pa., in a 1710 log home that his father spent years restoring — he long thought a wheel barrow was a piece of living room furniture.
Influenced by such writers as Aldo Leopold (A Sand County Almanac) and Rachel Carson (Silent Spring), he decided as a 7th-grader in 1967 that he was going to be a “conservationist” (the term “environmentalist” wasn’t yet in vogue). He has a degree in biology from Ithaca College, but after college got diverted into renewable energy — seeing solar and wind as positive solutions to our challenging problems of pollution.
He moved to Vermont in 1980 to become executive director of the New England Solar Energy Association and oversaw its transition to the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (cleverly retaining the NESEA acronym).
He has always been an avid outdoorsperson. When his two daughters were growing up, he was writing a series of books on quiet-water paddling for the Appalachian Mountain Club. He and his wife and daughters spent all their summer vacation time on wilderness canoe-camping trips in the Northeast, partly researching great canoeing destinations for his four books, but mostly enjoying the great outdoors with his family.
Alex has always had a vegetable garden, and he has recently been writing extensively on such issues as integrating food production into the built environment and “passive survivability” (ensuring that homes are designed and built to maintain livable conditions in the event of extended loss of power or heating fuel).