Solar Energy Leader Now President of Nonprofit that Inspired Him Since High School


During his senior year at Lincoln County High School, James Marlow wrote to a newly established nonprofit of solar energy advocates in Atlanta, Ga., to learn how he could start his own career on the cutting edge of sustainability and clean energy. James never guessed that he would become the president of that organization decades later, but that’s exactly what he accomplished when he joined Southface Institute on May 16.

After graduating from high school and then from Georgia Southern University, James built his career on emerging technologies at Lotus Development, IBM, and Yahoo! His commitment to a clean energy future deepened when he became CEO and Co-Founder of Radiance Solar, a start-up that James and his team grew into an award-winning provider of commercial, residential, and utility solar installations across the US. He went on to develop innovative solar solutions as VP Strategic Alliances at Velo Solar. Most recently, James served as CEO of Clean Energy Advisors, where he delivered strategic consulting services for sustainability, energy policy, clean technology, and solar projects.

Through the years, Southface continued to be a source of sustainable building inspiration and professional development to James. “Southface introduced me to innovations that made our industry what it is today,” he explained. “The first substantive information that I received on solar energy, the first LED lightbulb that I saw in person, the first advanced water and energy conservation tools and techniques that I learned to implement—I got all of that from Southface. They have been a true thought leader and innovator that convenes and connects all kinds of people and organizations.”

Today, Southface has grown far beyond solar in the Southeast with countless residential, commercial, and municipal projects across the nation. The multidisciplinary team develops cities’ clean energy plans, makes cost-saving efficiency upgrades to youth centers, improves the air quality in affordable housing, advocates for responsible state utility regulations, trains trade workers to certify green buildings, and more. James will lead the organization to scale this impact until all communities and ecosystems have what they need to thrive.

“For more than 40 years, Southface has been a leader in the advocacy, research, design, and implementation of a healthy built environment that gives back more than it uses,” Southface Board Chair Tyrone Rachal noted. “We are very pleased that James will continue to drive our mission forward.” George Buchanan, CEO of 2KB Energy Services and chair of Southface’s board search committee, added, “James brings with him a proven history of leadership and achievement in sustainability, and we’re eager to support him as president in this next phase of the Southface journey.”

As James leads Southface into the future, this much is certain—he’ll never underestimate the power of innovation to inspire the next generation, especially when the health of our planet is on the line. He has the dedication and experience to make a big difference, and he’s here to pay it forward.

About Southface Institute

Southface Institute is a sustainable building nonprofit formed in 1978 that strengthens equity and the environment by transforming residential and commercial structures at every stage of the building life cycle.

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