President of renewable energy company got his start in Wallace State Green Construction program

Apr 25, 2024Dalton Bright
Mason Holmes

Wallace State alum Mason Holmes is the President of Pure Source Renewables, a solar energy installation and electrical contracting firm for commercial and residential buildings in Beltsville, Maryland.

Hanceville, AL — Since he was a child, Mason Holmes has been running outside to play. Whether it was camping or floating down a river in a canoe, Holmes and his family spent most days outdoors. Nature was a place full of wonder and one that his parents taught him to navigate, enjoy and take care of. He still spends most of his time outside, but typically under different circumstances than a casual hike through the woods.

Mason HolmesHolmes is the President of Pure Source Renewables, a solar energy installation and electrical contracting firm for commercial and residential buildings in Beltsville, Maryland. He is part of a growing global renewable energy market valued at $1085 billion in 2023. The company services what Holmes calls the “DMV,” which includes the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Pure Source Renewables completes projects that range from installing solar panels atop residential homes to wiring-in hundreds of panels for office buildings and sports facilities. With the influx of electric vehicles, they also install charging stations.

Holmes, a Gadsden native and Wallace State Community College alum, has been working with renewable energy solutions for over a decade now, and his time in the industry includes working with companies like Tesla and Pure Source Renewables’ sister company, New Columbia Solar.

“When I was with New Columbia Solar, we would do community projects like go out and build a solar system for a low-income apartment building. Doing so helped contribute to cleaner energy sources, but it also gave the residents of that building access to reduced or subsidized power rates. With that, families could then have more money in their pockets to provide for their children. It all was pretty harmonious,” said Holmes. “In 2022, I approached the owner of New Columbia Solar and asked if he would be interested in splitting off the construction department as its own separate company, which is now Pure Source Renewables. As sister companies, we work together as they develop solar plans, and we construct them.”

LEED Certified Green Building

Wallace State sparked a career in renewable energy

Even though working in the renewable energy business has taken him all over the United States, Holmes said he truly got his start while he was a student in Hanceville at Wallace State Community College. In 2007, Holmes began taking general studies classes at WSCC. He then chose to join the Emergency Medical Services program, but realized being a paramedic was not the right fit for him. While he was on campus one day, Holmes learned that Wallace State was going to begin offering a short-term Green Construction Training program focused on sustainable building methods called Green 101. Each summer growing up, Holmes worked different general construction jobs, so he had years of experience and interest in the field. Coupled with his love of nature, Holmes said it was an opportunity he could not pass up.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands. I also have two brothers, so anytime my dad needed home renovations, he had his own team of builders,” said Holmes. “Once I saw that Wallace State was going to begin offering a green building program and how the program aligned entirely with what I like and what I believe in, I knew I had to enroll.”

While the Green 101 course is no longer offered at Wallace State, as sustainability-focused coursework is now included in the curriculum for the Construction Management program, projects completed by Holmes and other students still stand, with one of the buildings now being used by the Wallace State Criminal Justice program as a forensics training area.

Much like the Construction Management program, the short-term Green Construction Technology program provided hands-on training to students by allowing them to remodel two older residences on campus. One of these project houses was constructed with standard appliances that may be found in most American homes. The second was equipped with things like water runoff collection tanks, a geothermal hydronic floor heater and solar paneling.

“I really liked what I learned and did at Wallace State. We got exposure to constructing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified homes, we worked on sustainable projects around campus, and we obtained a deep understanding on cleaner sources of energy such as geothermal and solar.”

Mason Holmes

Certificate earned at Wallace provided foundation for becoming a business owner

After his time at Wallace State, Holmes moved to Maryland and began his career working in renewable energy at a company called Solar City. He said he was able to take the first step into the industry due to knowledge he gained in classes at Wallace State.

“Thanks to all I learned and the certificate I obtained through the Green Construction Training program, I was able to show the hiring team that I actually knew a lot of valuable stuff. I started out as a residential solar installer, and I was up on roofs every single day. All summer and all winter. Throughout rainy, snowy or sunny days.

"My time at Wallace State really propelled me to where I am now, and without the knowledge that I gained, I don't know that I could comfortably say that I would be owning and running my own renewable energy business today,” said Holmes.

“Wallace State helped me understand that there are more things to do out there than just general construction. My time there helped form the way I think about power production and how I could create something that's more sustainable and to move away from things like fossil fuels. The trajectory that Wallace State put me on was astronomical.” 

Holmes said he is grateful for his position within the renewable energy industry, as it has taken him all over the globe and shown him things he never expected to see. Even though he has spent the past decade travelling and meeting new people, he said that he often thinks about his smiling peers and the supportive faculty and staff at Wallace State. 

“I feel like when you go to a large university, you tend to get lost in a sea of numbers, and that is mostly what you are as a student: a number. But at Wallace State, I felt like I could go to any faculty or staff, and they would address me by name and help me. It wasn’t like ‘we’ve got this student that needs some help,’ but it was more like ‘hey, Mason, what do you need and how can we help you?’ It always felt more worthwhile and impactful because they took time out of their day to show attention and help me with what I needed. I really liked the faculty and the staff at Wallace State. They were very supportive, and I am better off for it.”  

Holmes said one Wallace State faculty member left the biggest impression on him and his career path. Michael Hart was the former instructor of the Green Construction Training program at Wallace State. Originally from California, with a career spanning back to the late 1980s, Hart implemented his passion for sustainable building practices into his own construction work. Hart died in 2021, but Holmes said he often thinks of him, the lessons he shared in the program and the conversations they shared outside of class. 

“There were many nights that I would call him up and ask him questions about my life and the jobs I should or shouldn’t take. He was a good friend. Mr. Hart inspired me to think outside of the box and to consider the opportunities that are there. He really helped me foster a deep and curious nature about all things,” said Holmes. “At the time, I was young and trying to get into whatever trouble I could find, but that gentleman saw a spark in me, I suppose. He saw something promising that I didn't see, and he took me under his wing and showed me what it means to build something that is sustainable and has long-lasting, positive effects for everybody on our planet.”

His story is the community college story, and Holmes is paying it forward.

Holmes said he encourages everyone to find what they like to do and put all effort into it. He said no matter what their passion is or where they may be in life right now, anyone can achieve their goals.

“You have to find your niche and what you're good at and you can most definitely make an impact in the world. Even if it is just an impact on one person's life, no matter how big or small it is, it will be an impact,” said Holmes. “I often ask myself how I can best serve people and how I can better the planet with my limited time here on it, and I believe through solar energy, I found that is where I can leave my greatest impact during my time here. I was able to find that niche with solar. I left Wallace State with a certificate from their Green 101 program and now I own a company that employs people and hopefully inspires that same dream of not limiting yourself. Anything is possible, you just have to apply yourself and put your mind to it.”

This in one in a series of stories celebrating Community College Month


About Wallace State

Wallace State Community College (Ala.), a member of the Alabama Community College System, is a comprehensive community college in north central Alabama offering more than 200 options in academic, health and technical programs of study leading to an associate degree, certificate or transfer, as well as non-credit training and adult education. An Achieving the Dream Leader College, nationally-recognized by the Aspen Institute among the top 10 percent of institutions according to student outcomes, ranked by Southern Business and Development among the Top 3 institutions in the South for workforce development, named a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing Center and the National Security Administration, rated the Top Online Community College in Alabama, a Military Friendly Institution and an All-Steinway School, Wallace State is an outstanding place for students to pursue their education and career goals. Classes are offered online and on campus, day, evening and on weekends, with numerous start dates each year. Visit Wallace State’s beautiful main campus located on 300-acres in Hanceville, Ala., our satellite location in downtown Oneonta, Ala., find us online at, or call 256.352.8000. 

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