Linking Legends

John Wilson accepting the Jeffrey Johnson Award

John Wilson, former Board President of New Buildings Institute, has been awarded the 2018 Jeffrey A. Johnson Award for Excellence in the Advancement Of Building Energy Codes. This award is named in honor of an early Executive Director of New Buildings Institute, Jeff Johnson, and his leadership in using codes to deliver significant energy savings in commercial buildings. John’s support of NBI has been instrumental in the codes work accomplished by our organization, and we are so pleased to know his career-long efforts have been recognized in this manner.

John Wilson’s 40-year career of working to advance buildings codes and standards has been a model for strategic and impactful market intervention. He spent most of his career as an economist and advisor at the California Energy Commission (CEC).  From 1977-2008 at the CEC, John was responsible for oversight of PIER, California’s Public Interest Energy Research program, developing and implementing new energy efficiency appliance standards, and working on forecasting and strategy for California’s clean energy future.

Statistics from a 2009 International Rivers article, “Less is More: Energy Efficiency Lessons from California,” featuring work done during John’s tenure tell the story: “…The state saved nearly $56 billion in energy costs between 1972 and 2006 through efficiency measures. It now uses 40% less electricity per person than the national average, and it generates 68% more gross domestic product for every unit of energy used than the rest of the nation.”

While John was busy at his CEC job, he was also using his time to support and form other organizations that could help advance energy code stringency for the built environment. In 1997, John was a founding board member of New Buildings Institute with a vision for advancing best practices that lead to next generation codes and enhancing utility energy efficiency programs. He actively guided and supported NBI to become a driving force in code and policy development nationally, including the adoption of NBI-developed Core Performance Guide as a complete replacement of Chapter 7 of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). This change represented the largest single-step increase in efficiency in the history of the IECC.

John’s experience at the CEC informed his subsequent role as the Energy Foundation’s (EF) Buildings Program Director.  John said: “…it is possible to make big changes in how energy is used, but that it takes a long time, and a lot of separate programs and policies, to get it done. There are no quick fixes to solve this puzzle; it takes a lot of patience. But the consistent and aggressive application of efficiency measures over time can have a huge impact.” Like a puzzle-master, he pulls together the pieces that result in a holistic and complete approach for codes and standard development. Nowhere is that more evident than in John’s work at the Energy Foundation.

For the past nine years, he has promoted educational advocacy for stringent building codes and building-performance policies. His oversight of grant-making for the Buildings Program has resulted in a strong collaborative network of national, regional and local advocates. However, John is not a passive player in the Energy Foundation’s portfolio.  He rolls up his sleeves alongside grantees to develop and execute on action paths that work.  The collective efforts of this network have produced ever-stronger building codes, as well as benchmarking and transparency policies that provide consumers the information and financial resources to encourage investments in efficient buildings.

John Wilson’s legacy in California and nationally is a testament to his lifelong commitment to transforming the built environment through enhanced codes and standards. John is a leader and thinker whose passion for saving energy and curbing climate change—and his success in advancing policies that do so—inspire all of us working in this field.

John Wilson joins NBI’s Jim Edelson (2016), Director of Codes and Policy, and Associate Director Eric Makela (2009) along with 10 other national leaders from throughout the U.S. as winners of this award since its inception in 2006, furthering the legacy left behind by Jeff Johnson.

Jeff Johnson in front of the NBI White Salmon office.