Kate England Appointed Boston's Inaugural Director of Green Infrastructure
Green infrastructure is an approach to stormwater management that protects, restores or mimics the natural water cycle through the use of trees and other vegetation. Green infrastructure also has numerous co-benefits including increased tree canopy, mitigating urban heat island effect, and increased ecological diversity. England will collaborate across City departments and with the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) to lead the City’s efforts to plan, build, and maintain green infrastructure as part of the Mayor’s Green New Deal for Boston. She began working in her new role on Monday.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Kate back to city government as a key part of our Boston Green New Deal leadership,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “With rising temperatures and sea levels, we must accelerate green infrastructure throughout our neighborhoods, from boosting trees and open space to improving water drainage through our sewer system. I’m excited for her vision and leadership in this role to empower our communities.”
England will be responsible for incorporating green infrastructure into the City of Boston’s project plans, regulations, and operations. She will be relaunching the Green Infrastructure Working Group that she started while at BWSC to ensure that City departments have a uniform approach to green infrastructure implementation. Through the working group, she will work with engineering and planning teams across City departments to update standard details and design guidelines to incorporate current green infrastructure best practice into the City’s daily operations, including sidewalk reconstruction, street repaving, development review, street tree planting, and park renovations.
“I’m incredibly excited to help make neighborhoods throughout Boston greener and more resilient,” said Kate England. “Nature is better at stormwater management than we are. Boston has embraced a nature based approach to stormwater management throughout its history and I look forward to helping make our City a national leader in this field.”
The impacts of climate change, such as increased frequency and intensity of storms, are exacerbating local and coastal flooding events throughout Boston. Green infrastructure features, like rain gardens, bioswales, and constructed wetlands not only help improve water quality, but also lessen localized stormwater flooding. Living shorelines and other nature based solutions create more resilient coastlines and reduce the frequency and severity of coastal flooding events and projected sea level rise. Taking into account the varying needs of each neighborhood, England will work to develop a neighborhood specific approach to green infrastructure implementation across the City, with a focus on prioritizing environmental justice neighborhoods, such as Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury. These efforts will also lead to improved air quality and increased tree canopy in these neighborhoods and throughout the City.
England has a background in engineering and landscape architecture and most recently worked as a statewide planner for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). While at DCR, she advised staff about green infrastructure best practices, authored green infrastructure policies and procedures, chaired one of DCR’s Climate Action Teams, and helped lead DCR’s statewide Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. She previously worked as a project coordinator for stormwater infrastructure at BWSC where she established and oversaw the Commission’s Green Infrastructure Program. While at BWSC, she also helped author green infrastructure curriculum for 5th and 7th grade Boston Public Schools students. The curriculum was piloted in the 2018-2019 school year and is now taught districtwide.
England lives in the Stony Brook Reservation in Hyde Park with her partner Steve and their dogs Piper and Zoey. In her spare time England enjoys caring for her over 90 potted plants, gardening, and playing ultimate frisbee and field hockey. She holds bachelors degrees from Northeastern University in political science and international affairs and a master’s in environmental studies from Brown University where she wrote her master’s thesis on utilizing stormwater utilities to incentivize implementation of green infrastructure.
England’s appointment builds on the Wu administration’s commitment to supporting a healthy, local ecosystem, and a thriving green economy. Mayor Wu’s first budget included groundbreaking investments in climate action to create a Green New Deal city. These investments include $2.5 million for a new Climate Ready Streets program within Climate Ready Boston to deliver on heat resilience, stormwater management, and air quality on key transportation corridors, $20 million for a nation-leading pilot for energy retrofits in triple deckers and other multi-family homes while maintaining affordability, $2.5 million of ARPA funds to grow and preserve our urban tree canopy, including an innovative pilot program on private land, $2.5 million in electrifying school bus infrastructure, a $6 million ARPA investment to scale Youth Green Jobs, and $137 million in capital funding, plus operating investments, to create and protect parks, the tree canopy, and open spaces in the City.