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Brownie grew up on a working farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has dedicated his adult life to preserving the environmental health of western North Carolina and promoting the development of clean, renewable energy. Brownie has worked as both a volunteer and staff person for a number of regional and state-wide conservation organizations. From 1998- 2003, he served as the Executive Director of the Western North Carolina Alliance, where he worked to pass the Clean Smokestacks Act through the North Carolina Legislature. This legislation is reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants, by far the largest sources of air pollution in North Carolina, by 80 percent.
In 2003, Brownie was elected to the Asheville City Council. As a member of City Council, Brownie helped make Asheville a national leader in support of clean, renewable energy. He sponsored and passed a resolution requiring municipal buildings to be constructed to LEED Gold green building requirements and a policy committing the City to reduce its global warming emissions by 80%. Since passage of the resolution, the City has already reduced its emissions by 10% and is finalizing plans for an additional 20% reduction by 2014.
Brownie represents the City Council on the Metropolitan Planning Organization, is Chair of the Housing and Community Development Committee and serves on the board for the Asheville Regional Airport Authority. Brownie was re-elected to a second term on City Council in 2007 and currently serves as the Mayor Pro Tem.
In 2008, Brownie became a partner and Project Finance Director for a new solar energy development company called FLS Energy. Since Brownie has joined FLS Energy, the company has grown from 12 to 70 employees. FLS Energy has become the most experienced solar company in the nation in development of solar thermal systems for businesses and organizations whose operations require large volumes of hot water.
Brownie graduated with a BA in History and Political Science from Warren Wilson in 2002. At Warren Wilson he mostly worked on the farm crew and garden crew. It was during his community service experiences at Warren Wilson that he was introduced to many of the environmental and conservation organizations in western North Carolina with whom he later worked.
“The public policy background I received at Warren Wilson has been an important foundation for me,” Brownie explains. “I believe our addiction to fossil fuels and global warming are the most urgent issues facing society today. Warren Wilson encourages its students to take the long term view and to get involved and make a difference in the issues that matter.”