Brian Swett named Chief Climate Officer for City

Mayor Michelle Wu announced the appointment of Brian Swett as the City of Boston’s Chief Climate Officer, leading the Environment, Energy and Open Space (EEOS) Cabinet. This Cabinet is currently overseen by Reverend Mariama White-Hammond who will be transitioning out of her role on April 26. In this role, Swett is charged with spearheading the Mayor’s bold agenda on climate action while advancing Boston’s commitment to sustainability, resilience, and environmental justice. The EEOS Cabinet includes the Environment Department, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Office of Historic Preservation, and the Office of Food Justice. In this expanded role, Swett will also work to develop and co-lead a new Climate Cabinet alongside Boston’s Green New Deal Director, Oliver Sellers-Garcia. The Climate Cabinet will implement innovative climate policies and programs to support decarbonization and resilience, reaffirming Boston’s role as a national leader in climate action. 

“Brian is a visionary leader with a proven track record of taking on climate challenges to improve the health and prosperity of our communities. He brings decades of experience implementing decarbonization, resilience, and energy transition programs with environmental justice principles at the core,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I am thrilled to welcome Brian back to the City of Boston and look forward to his passion, expertise, and collaborative spirit to lead us forward in our climate work, and build on the strong foundation that has already been set.” 

Swett is a nationally recognized leader in climate change and sustainability strategy with over two decades of leadership experience in municipal government, private sector real estate development, federal government, and non-profit sectors. He combines his advanced business, policy, and science background to lead effective policy development and management for built and natural environments. Swett’s expertise includes sustainability strategy, energy and climate policy, green buildings, policy and program development, and performance management. He is currently a Principal at Arup, a global engineering, design and consulting firm focused on sustainable development. Based out of Boston, he is a board member of its Americas Region and leads Arup’s East Geography, composed of Arup’s offices in Boston, New York City, New Jersey, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Prior to joining Arup, Swett served as Boston’s Chief of EEOS from 2012 to 2015. Over his tenure, Swett led a variety of major policy and program initiatives including developing and passing a rental inspection ordinance and Boston’s energy benchmarking ordinance, BERDO. He launched Climate Ready Boston, the City of Boston’s initiative to plan for the near and long-term impacts of climate change and led the update of the 2015 Climate Action Plan. Under his leadership, Boston was recognized by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) as the #1 city in the country for energy efficiency policies and programs in their 2013 and 2015 biennial rankings. 

“I am deeply honored and grateful to be appointed as the first Chief Climate Officer for the City of Boston, and I am thrilled to lead the EEOS Cabinet,” said Brian Swett, incoming Chief Climate Officer. “Climate change is the existential threat of our time, and I look forward to once again serving Boston residents and working alongside Mayor Wu and the incredibly talented staff at the City. Collaborating with government agencies, non-profits, and the private sector, I am confident we can deliver a decarbonized, climate resilient, and just Boston for current and future generations.” 

During Swett’s tenure as a leader at Arup, he has led and worked on a variety of sustainability, decarbonization and resilience projects in the Boston area including the Wharf District Council Protection & Resiliency Plan, Carbon Free Boston, the Lower Mystic Regional Critical Infrastructure Assessment, and the Downtown Boston Master Plan, among others. Swett’s history of executive leadership, technical expertise, and driving systemic change within large, complex organizations makes him the ideal candidate to lead Boston’s sustainability strategy. Brian returns to the City of Boston with a particular focus on expediting Boston’s decarbonization work, implementing climate resilience strategies, and enabling the transition to green energy, while embedding environmental and racial justice in all of Boston’s climate policies and programs. The Chief Climate Officer will serve as a thought leader and communicator on Mayor Wu’s climate agenda, driving engagement and awareness across Boston’s communities.

“I have worked with Brian for over a decade, and his experience advancing climate action through public and private partnerships, real estate development, and business will be critical as we navigate the complexities of implementing our ambitious climate plans,” said Oliver Sellers-Garcia, Green New Deal Director. “I am thrilled to be working with Brian again to realize our vision for a sustainable, resilient, and equitable Boston.” 

“Brian is a terrific leader in the climate space and he has already helped the Boston Housing Authority design our roadmap for decarbonization in his work with Arup,” said Kenzie Bok, BHA Administrator. “I am excited to see him return his commitment, passion, and creativity to City Hall.”

“Boston Harbor Now is thrilled that Brian Swett is returning to the City of Boston to lead Mayor Wu’s visionary work to tackle the climate crisis,” said Kathy Abbott, President and CEO of Boston Harbor Now. “With his extensive knowledge and experience spanning government, the private sector, and non-profits, Brian is an exceptional candidate for this critical role. I can not think of a better leader to make real progress on Boston’s climate actions.” 

“I applaud the appointment of Brian Swett as the Chief Climate Officer for the City of Boston. In his roles of Principal at Arup and Co-Chair of the Chamber’s Climate & Energy Leadership Council, Brian’s strategic and effective leadership led the successful development of projects and partnerships nationally and globally,” said James E. Rooney, President and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. “The City of Boston will benefit from his immense expertise in energy and climate policy and sustainability strategy as he leads the climate goals of the City forward.”

Swett’s appointment builds on the Wu administration’s commitment to enhancing climate resilience and green spaces through a citywide Green New Deal. Last week, Mayor Wu shared her FY25 Budget which included groundbreaking investments in climate action and adaptation. These investments range from new personnel investments, such as a park administrator and six new maintenance staff to maintain Franklin Park, to transformative Capital investments, such as a new $75 million City fund that leverages State and Federal climate resilience grants. Swett will begin his new role on June 10, 2024.

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