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Bruce Brownell

Owner of Adirondack Alternate Energy (AAE) in Northville, N.Y.
Posted January 2007

Bruce Brownell—Construction Management and Wood Products Engineering, Class of 1964

"I've never had the sun send a bill to one of my clients yet."

That's just one incentive Bruce Brownell offers for heating a home with passive solar heat.

The founder of Adirondack Alternate Energy (AAE) in Northville, NY, Brownell is a 1964 Construction Management and Wood Products Engineering graduate. His company provides design, engineering and materials to construct the shell of highly insulated mass-integrated passive solar homes.

Through orienting the home southward, insulating six sides (four outside walls, roof and under the basement), installing a duct system to circulate air from the house to an integrated heavy mass under the lowest floor, Brownell's homes are efficient and economical.

"Most of the energy comes from the sun. These houses still need a small amount of back up heat," he said.

Convincing people of the benefits of passive solar heat - low energy bills, positive impact on the environment - may seem like an easy sell, and Brownell has spent the last 30 years education the public about just how good it can be.

"America does not understand where energy goes to, where it comes from or what it costs them."

Shortly after graduating from ESF, Brownell pursued his interest in solar power and built a passive solar home. He advertised in the New York newspapers about this new energy alternative. There were few takers then, but to date Brownell has constructed more than 350 homes.

There are still misconceptions about solar power that Brownell hopes to eliminate one client at a time. He spends approximately 100 hours on educating each client about passive solar energy.

"I've been an educator more than anything."

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