Oliver Sellers-Garcia brings background in sustainability planning for cities, outreach efforts
SOMERVILLE – Oliver Sellers-Garcia has taken the position of Director of
Sustainability and Environment for the City’s Office of Sustainability and Environment as of July 1, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced today.
Sellers-Garcia has a distinguished background in developing sustainability plans for cities, institutions and non-profits, while effectively communicating the facts about climate change and leading discussions about sustainability planning. He most recently served as project manager at the environmental consulting firm CDM Smith, where he led interdisciplinary teams that developed planning studies and engagement programs on sustainability, urban development and climate change for municipal, institutional and non-profit clients. Among the projects he undertook were helping the City of Salem develop a climate change vulnerability and adaptation plan; helping create Asheville, North Carolina’s plan to reduce the city’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; and supporting Logan Airport’s projects on sustainable planning and design.
Prior to taking on the project manager role, Sellers-Garcia served as an urban planner with CDM Smith, which included leading public meetings, stakeholder outreach and focus groups in English and Spanish. A Somerville resident, Sellers-Garcia holds a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and French from Columbia University and a master’s in city planning and certificate in urban design from MIT.
“As the Director of Sustainability and Environment, Mr. Sellers-Garcia will play a critical role in the City reaching our ambitious 2050 net zero carbon emissions target, looking at solutions inside our city boundary, as well as our role in curbing emissions around the globe,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Cities are collectively responsible for over 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions across the planet. If each city sweats the small, local stuff, we can make a big global change. Our investments in sustainability are not only better for the planet and our health, but for our taxpayers’ wallets, saving the City millions in energy costs. Mr. Sellers-Garcia brings impressive experience to Somerville that will propel our efforts around sustainability.”
“The role of a sustainability director is to be a teacher and advocate, a strategic thinker, and a technical resource for city officials, municipal departments, residents, and stakeholders. After working with many cities across the country and the world, I have learned that sustainability is as much about communication and management as it is about the environment,” Sellers-Garcia said. “Embracing sustainability saves money and increases efficiency. Climate change forecasts are based on complicated modeling, but we can make this information understandable and usable for our City. The City of Somerville’s excellent management and growth potential provide tremendous opportunity for sustainable development—as well as the need for a careful use of resources and a prudent response to climate change. I am excited to contribute to this effort in my hometown.”
Mayor Curtatone established the Office of Sustainability in Environment in 2006, committing Somerville to action designed to reduce energy use and harmful carbon emissions, and promote best practices for a sustainable city. Six years ago, the City invested over $7 million in energy efficiency and clean energy projects in Somerville city buildings, and over four years, the City’s energy performance contract with Honeywell International has saved Somerville over $2 million in energy costs. As a designated Massachusetts Green Community, the City updated its building code to require a 20 percent higher energy efficiency standard for all new construction, and has committed to higher fuel efficiency standards for its vehicle fleet. Also, the Somerville Residential Energy Efficiency Program launched in 2011, and since then 500 energy audits have been conducted and more than 65 direct grants have been awarded to residents for energy efficiency upgrades.

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