ITHACA, N.Y.—The City of Ithaca has announced the hiring of Luis Aguirre Torres to lead the city’s Green New Deal efforts as the Director of Sustainability.

Torres has more than 15 years of domestic and international experience working with “government, non-profit and business sectors in green technology, policy development and implementation, emissions reduction, green entrepreneurship and related issues,” according to a press release announcing his arrival. He’s done extensive work in Latin America, receiving a commendation from President Barack Obama for his work there.

 “Since the Green New Deal initiative was unanimously approved by Common Council in June 2019, we have sought the right person to lead the City in achieving our ambitious climate and equity goals,” said Mayor Svante Myrick. “We were all disappointed when the pandemic caused a delay in the search process. The silver lining is that we had the opportunity to hire Luis, who brings impressive experience and knowledge to the position.”

Torres will lead the City’s Green New Deal initiative to address climate change, economic inequality and racial injustice through five main goals:

  • Targeting community-wide carbon-neutrality by 2030
  • Meeting the electricity needs of City government operations with 100% renewable electricity by 2025
  • Reducing emissions from the City vehicle fleet by 50% by 2025
  • Ensuring benefits are shared among all local communities to reduce historical social and economic inequities
  • Facilitating a comprehensive public engagement process

Myrick credited Sustainability Coordinator Nick Goldsmith, who also works with the Town of Ithaca, and other staff and community members with the progress that has been made on the Green New Deal initiative so far.

. “Community members formed the Green New Deal Interim Advisory Committee to develop public information and identify stakeholder groups for the public engagement process,” Myrick said. “Not to mention all our local activists who have never stopped pushing for urgent change. Torres will leverage this existing momentum and enthusiasm to accelerate the work moving forward.”

Torres will join the City’s Department of Planning, and Development in late March.  Early actions will include conducting a Greenhouse Gas Inventory, updating the City’s Climate Action Plan, and kicking off a public engagement process.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com