Today, Mayor de Blasio took another positive step forward with his climate action plan by creating a new Office of Sustainability and naming Clinton White House and Columbia University veteran Nilda Mesa as as its director. The new office was created by combining the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Coordination (MOEC) and the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability (MOLTPS) into a single entity. MOEC was previously responsible for overseeing the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) process, required to limit the environmental impact of City projects, and also for overseeing compliance of Local Law 86 of 2005, which required City projects within certain funding thresholds to meet LEED Silver certification requirements. MOLTPS is known for developing PlaNYC and the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan under Bloomberg, and more recently played a central role in the development of the One City: Built to Last climate action plan that targets an 80% reduction in City carbon emissions by 2050. Ms. Mesa was recently made the Director of MOEC while Daniel Zarrilli, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency (MORR), was also Acting Director of MOLTPS. Combining the two offices solves the bureaucratic conundrum of having such similar sets of activities handled by two different groups, and fills a leadership vacuum that critics of the administration pointed to as evidence of a lack of commitment to environmental issues, since Mr. Zarilli was assumed to spend the majority of his time on MORR.
Nilda Mesa has a strong track record from her time in the White House but her time at Columbia University is also promising. In that role she navigated a diverse set of stakeholders, not dissimilar to the city agencies she must now coordinate with, and helped the organization balance a wide range of issues with both regulated and self-imposed environmental targets.
The press release from the Mayor’s office, in which BEEx Board Member Pat Sapinsley is quoted, can be found here.