Michael recognizes that the green sector represents a major opportunity to help propel Boston forward economically and to provide job opportunities for our citizens, especially those who have historically faced barriers to good jobs, such as underskilled workers, those who didn't finish school, ESL residents, at-risk youth, and individuals who were formerly incarcerated. The success of the city’s ability to grow its green sector and achieve such “green recovery” is contingent upon whether we have a properly trained and ready workforce, which is why
Michael endorses establishing city-sponsored training opportunities for marginalized populations, including a Green Jobs Corps such as the one operated in Oakland, California. Years before City Hall launched Renew Boston Solar to encourage the widespread adoption of solar energy in Boston, Michael called for making Boston a destination city for leading companies specializing in solar and wind power and related R&D activities. He was at the forefront calling for a revolution in our municipal solar program by expanding partnerships with the private sector and capitalizing on the benefits of being designated a U.S. solar city. In order to thrive in the 21st century, Boston must become a city where green industries want to locate and invest.
Michael has been a leading advocate for expanding efforts to green City Hall, calling for the integration of plants, trees and porous surfaces to green the plaza and effectively manage storm water runoff. We can reduce the costs of processing the plaza's storm water by having runoff partially cleaned by the soil, thus reducing the total reaching city sewers while at the same time recharging the local groundwater supply. He also called for increasing Boston’s recycling rates, advocated that the city adopt RecycleBank’s incentive-based recycling, and supported increasing the number of recycling options throughout the city, including in parks and other open spaces. In early 2009, Michael called upon the city to immediately make the single-stream pilot recycling program citywide, which happened on July 1st of that year.
A leader in environmental policy, Michael also proposed that the city mandate that construction and demolition debris be recycled, and has proposed that Boston require the recycling of materials from special events. His efforts as a city councilor to increase recycling rates in Boston include his proposal that the city facilitate public-private partnerships where local restaurants would provide their compostable material, kitchen trimmings and plate scrapings to neighborhood gardens and city parks in exchange for reduced hauling fees. As an early supporter of the non-profit program Energy Smackdown, Michael understands the importance and power of effective environmental education and outreach. Reducing Boston’s carbon footprint requires an understanding and commitment on the part of residents to transform their lifestyles and homes to be more eco-friendly. Michael proposed that the city launch its own “green” city website as a way to ensure that Boston increases its use of clean energy and becomes an ideal location for green businesses.
Also in 2009, Michael proposed that Boston bring greater accountability and oversight to sustainable planning and development policies by creating a city Director of Sustainability (DOS). Such a new position would be responsible for ensuring that all sustainable measures be taken for projects of all sizes throughout all stages of development, so that each project would create the lowest practical carbon footprint. The DOS would also be responsible for integrating the city’s sustainability goals into all aspects of city government by facilitating cross-departmental cooperation in the creation of environmentally sustainable initiatives.