Viraj Puri

Viraj Puri's picture
Basic Info
Wild Gift Class Year: 
2005
Better World Expertise: 
Energy
Sustainable Food & Agriculture
Current Occupation: 
Co-Founder and CEO at Gotham Greens
Wild Gift was instrumental in providing me with the resources to pursue an entrepreneurial project in my early career. That experience has proved invaluable since then, particularly at my current entrepreneurial venture. Wild Gift trips have allowed me to travel in stunning wilderness with inspiring people. These expeditions never fail to re-affirm the immense value of wildness and the stewardship of wildlands,
Impacts of My Work: 
From 2005-2009, Shesyon Solar Earthworks (SSE) completed 6 green buildings, over 70,000 sq. ft. including schools, medical clinic, and vocational training center.
SSE generated over $550,000 in revenue and created over 150 construction jobs.
Employed 25 skilled and unskilled Ladakhi's and implemented an 18-month Solar Builder Course that targeted school dropouts, half of them women. Several of the graduates of this course are now employed at SSE.

I co-founded and now serve as CEO of Gotham Greens, a New York City-based company working to advance sustainable urban agriculture.  Gotham Greens built and now operates New York City’s first commercial scale, urban greenhouse facility. Gotham Greens state of the art, renewable-energy powered greenhouses, provides NYC restaurants and retailers with premium quality produce year round.

I have developed and managed start-up enterprises in New York City, Ladakh, India and Malawi, Africa focusing on green building, renewable energy, and environmental design. Prior to founding Gotham Greens, I worked at New York Sun Works, an environmental engineering firm.

My Wild Gift supported social enterprise project was called Shesyon Solar Earthworks(SSE). SSE inspired sustainable development in Ladakh, India, a remote, high-altitiude region in the Himalayas.  I pursued a self-designed project aimed at reconciling Ladakh’s rich solar power potential with its rapidly growing energy and infrastructure demands. With the assistance and guidance of a local NGO, I helped launch a green building and renewable energy company. The experience provided me with a unique lesson in the use of innovative technological solutions to address development challenges and sowed the seeds for a career in clean technology.  With the Wild Gift's support it proved to be a hands-on education in small business and successful social entrepreneurship.  

While I am a passionate New Yorker, I am equally at home in the mountains and in wild, remote corners of the world. I am a LEED® Accredited Professional and received a B.A. from Colgate University. My written work has appeared in several books and publications including, “100% Renewable — Energy Autonomy in Action” and the UN Academic Journal. I have received fellowships from the TED conference and the Wild Gift, where I have served on the board of directors, as an assistant wilderness guide and project mentor.