Latest Haven’s latest climate czar woke up at 4 a.m. Monday fascinated by the planet — then pedaled two wheels through icy slush to assist his city put it aside and create jobs within the process.
Steve Winter, 34, said he woke up that early because he was so “thrilled” to start his job as Latest Haven government’s first director of climate and sustainability.
Winter will earn $85,000 a 12 months running an office with a to-be-hired staffer charged with overseeing town’s move to more electric buildings and vehicles, working with renters and property owners to retrofit their homes with cheaper and cleaner energy, and linking up with other city departments and nonprofits working on green infrastructure like bike lanes.
Five million dollars in federal pandemic-relief money (through ARPA, or the American Rescue Plan Act) will fund the office through 2026. Mayor Justin Elicker said he hopes town will keep funding the office beyond that as a everlasting a part of government.
At a festive City Hall press conference alongside activists who pushed for the creation of the brand new climate office, Elicker (pictured above) proclaimed Winter “the proper fit for this job. … He knows town. He knows environmental issues. He knows the community.” Winter is stepping down as Ward 21 alder to take the job. He co-founded and helped run a clean-energy organization called Catalyst Cooperative. The coop’s mission: “to assist more people bring data and evaluation to the fight for clean energy and a stable climate.”
The brand new climate czar job requires someone who “wakes up each Monday pondering out our challenges with climate change,” Elicker said.
Indeed, Winter said he woke up early with that very focus Monday. He then avoided adding to Latest Haven’s pollution or poking holes within the ozone layer by riding a Jamis bicycle, which he bought utilized in 2012, to a prime automobile parking space within the rack outside his latest City Hall work location. The subject of his getting a city automotive for the job never even got here up.
On the press conference, Winter (pictured) said considered one of his top priorities shall be accessing the “avalanche” of federal money about to course through state governments to create green jobs on the town. That’s a part of a broader challenge for local governments across the U.S. the following two years: obtaining and truly spending the cash Congress approved in a 2021 infrastructure law (with $65 billion earmarked for clean energy) and a separate 2022 “inflation reduction” act (which incorporates $369 billion for “Energy Security and Climate Change”) chock stuffed with potential support for just the sort of constructing changes and energy switches Winter is charged with pursuing.
Based on the success City Engineer Giovanni Zinn has had snagging $160 million in federal dollars for coastal resilience efforts by the harbor, Winter has the potential to show his office right into a job-creator and a revenue source for city government while pursuing the goal Latest Haven set in 2019 of “ending community-wide greenhouse gas emissions” by the tip of 2030.
Winter said he envisions finding money to fund “a number of energy efficiency jobs, constructing technicians … folks who know and assess and install heat pumps for heating and cooling.”
Elicker, who also has been known to bike to work, added that he envisions town working to persuade landlords to undergo energy audits and ensure that of cash for green upgrades, partially to assist ease the high cost of living for renters.
Elicker was asked about concerns raised by some Independent commenters about spending money to create a latest position as a substitute of getting existing employees absorb the work. He responded that town is understaffed, that employees are stretched thin “being asked to do more with less” every day.
“Most days I’m scared” in regards to the environment, Kai Addae, chair of the Latest Haven Climate Emergency Task Force, said of Winter’s appointment on the press conference. “We all know this appointment will lead to a healthier, safer Latest Haven,” town’s Environmental Advisory Council stated in a release.
Patricia Joseph of the Latest Haven Climate Movement gave Winter the flyer pictured at left, which she hopes he’ll hang in his office as a reminder that “the work doesn’t end here” together with his appointment.
“This has been a lifelong passion of mine,” Winter said of his work promoting green energy. “This climate crisis is real. It’s here now.”
While he has no plans to drive a city gas guzzler to work, Winter did recently purchase a Rad Mission e‑bike — in case his latest job requires some longer trips over tougher terrain.