Daniel Zarrilli, the NYC Mayor Office’s former Chief Climate Policy Advisor, has joined Columbia as the first Chief Climate and Sustainability Officer to help push the University toward its sustainability efforts outlined in Plan 2030.

In an email to students on Tuesday, Columbia Chief Operating Officer Cas Halloway announced that Daniel Zarrilli will be the first Chief Climate and Sustainability Officer at Columbia University. 

Zarrilli will lead the efforts for Columbia’s Plan 2030 that intends to bring the University to net-zero emissions by 2050, serve as an advisor to President Shafik on climate and sustainability, and lead the new Steering Committee for Climate Action designed to “align climate leadership across Columbia’s schools, departments, and campuses.” Zarrilli will also manage the Office of Sustainability. Jessica Prata, Assistant Vice President in the Office of Sustainability, will continue her role on the Sustainability team as Zarrilli leads the Office.

Zarrilli was formerly the Special Advisor on Climate and Sustainability Issues at Columbia, joining in that capacity in 2021. Formerly, he served as the Chief Climate Policy Advisor with the NYC Mayor’s Office. According to Holloway’s email, Zarrilli is credited with instituting Local Law 97 to decarbonize buildings, leading climate-geared investments, implementing clean energy efforts in the city, and “launching a ground-breaking program to embed environmental justice into the City’s decision-making.” 

Currently, Zarrilli is on the NYC Water Board and the New York Independent System Operator’s Environmental Advisory Council, a collective of experts working on local and federal climate policies. He is also an author of the Fifth National Climate Assessment.

Holloway concluded his email by inviting students to congratulate Zarrilli. The email in its entirety can be found below.

The email sent from Chief Operating Officer Cas Hollway to Columbia students on Tuesday, July 2 at 4:42 pm:

Dear members of the Columbia community,

I’m excited to share the news that President Shafik has named Daniel Zarrilli as Columbia’s first-ever Chief Climate & Sustainability Officer. With the establishment of this new role, the University is demonstrating its commitment to operational excellence in sustainability across all areas.

As Chief Climate & Sustainability Officer, Dan will lead and coordinate the University’s wide-ranging efforts to achieve its climate commitments and related sustainability goals. This will include overseeing the implementation and delivery of Columbia’s Plan 2030 sustainability strategy, serving as an expert advisor to multiple University climate-related policy development initiatives, and developing productive relationships with interested stakeholders across the University community. He will chair a new Steering Committee for Climate Action to align climate leadership across Columbia’s schools, departments, and campuses, and will collaborate with external partners to support Columbia’s actions. Dan will also serve as a critical advisor to President Shafik and senior leadership on climate action and sustainability matters, will hold an appointment in the Climate School, and will be a part of the Chief Operating Officer’s leadership team. Columbia’s Office of Sustainability, expertly led by Jessica Prata, will become part of Dan’s portfolio. Jessica will continue her extraordinary work on the Sustainability team in this new configuration.

Daniel Zarrilli joined Columbia University in 2021 from the NYC Mayor’s Office, where he served most recently in the role of Chief Climate Policy Advisor. With senior climate and resilience appointments under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mayor Bill de Blasio, Dan positioned New York City as the global leader in the fight against climate change. Notable successes include launching a comprehensive $20 billion climate adaptation program, enacting Local Law 97 to decarbonize the City’s most polluting buildings, divesting the City’s pension funds from fossil fuel reserve owners and investing billions into climate solutions, securing new clean energy transmission to serve the five boroughs, and launching a ground-breaking program to embed environmental justice into the City’s decision-making. He recently served as an author on the Fifth National Climate Assessment, is a member of the New York Independent System Operator’s Environmental Advisory Council, and serves as a Mayoral appointee on the NYC Water Board. He holds an MS in Civil & Environmental Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BS in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University and brings over 25 years of experience in climate and resilience policy, sustainability, and infrastructure management to this role. Dan’s wealth of experience addressing climate change and delivering successful sustainability initiatives in complex operating environments makes him uniquely qualified to lead Columbia’s efforts.

Please join me in congratulating Dan on this important new assignment.


Cas Holloway 

Chief Operating Officer

Daniel Zarrilli via Columbia SIPA