David Johnston (builder)

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David Johnston is president of What's Working, a design and consulting firm in Boulder, Colorado that specializes in environmental construction technology. For over 25 years, Johnston has been encouraging the building industry to focus more attention on sustainability and become "greener". He was responsible for the commercialization of passive solar technology and the integration of it into residential building, largely through industry trade organization activities.[1]


Johnston studied with Buckminster Fuller at Southern Illinois University, graduating with a degree in Environmental Systems Design. Johnston has consulted with the US Department of Energy, the International Energy Agency, Alameda County (California), as well as private architects, builders, and homeowners in energy-efficient, and "environmentally friendly" housing.

In 1983 he founded LightWorks Construction in Bethesda, Maryland, a company that specialized in solar installations and later expanding into general remodeling for new-home and commercial projects. A decade later he sold the company and moved to Boulder, Colorado drawn by the culture of sustainable living. He founded a new company, What's Working, to offer green consulting and training.

He is a past director of the Boulder Home Builder's Association and co-author of the Green Builder Certification Program. He founded the Passive Solar Industries Council in Washington, DC and co-founded the California Build It Green program. Johnston is also an instructor for the Green Advantage Environmental Certification Program. Johnston worked for the Boulder Daily Camera for four years as a columnist and also worked for Cahners “Construct” magazine as a senior editor.


  • 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award, Boulder Green Building Guild
  • 2007 Sustainability Pioneer Award from SAM International recognizing Johnston's traceable impact on promoting sustainability.[2]
  • 2005 Nautilus Book Award for his book Green Remodeling
  • 2004 Environmental Hero Award, Interior and Sources Magazine
  • 2004 Corporate Excellence Award, University of Colorado
  • 2004 American Institute of Architects Colorado, Contribution to the Built Environment
  • 2003 Sustainable Community Development Award, Sustainable Buildings Industry Council
  • 2002 Our World Award, Rotary International
  • 1989 Top 50 Contractors in the US, Remodeling magazine[2]
  • 1988 NOVA Award, Boulder Community Foundation
  • 1996 Environmental Business of the Year, Boulder Chamber of Commerce
  • 1995-96 Hall of Fame, Denver Homebuilders Association


Johnston is the author and co-author of books on Green Building:

Johnston regularly contributes to major building publications and has had articles published in:[1]

as well as newspapers including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and many other local newspapers.


  1. ^ a b "About David Johnston". GreenBuilding.com. Retrieved 11 Aug 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Patel, Nina. "Second Look: David Johnston". Remodeling Magazine. Washington, DC: Hanley Wood LLC. (March 2008). ISSN 0885-8039. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "2005 Nautilus Award Winners". Retrieved 12 July 2010. [dead link]

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