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Baltimore, MD Awarded Highest Sustainability Rating

“5-STAR Community Rating” earned for progress on a range of economic, social and environmental issues

ContactTom Waldron, The Hatcher Group, 410-350-6637

BALTIMORE, MD – The City of Baltimore has won national recognition for its efforts to build a more sustainable and resilient community, with high marks for its work on a range of issues, including climate change and energy efficiency, and its strong network of community-based organizations. The city earned the certified 5-STAR Community Rating from STAR Communities, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that administers a national community rating system.

Baltimore joins Seattle and Northampton, Mass., as the only communities that have received the top, 5-STAR rating; in all, 35 communities and counties across the country have received STAR certifications.

The STAR assessment highlights several areas where Baltimore scored well, including its work preparing for and adapting to climate change and expanding urban agriculture and food production. The City also won points for its diverse set of community-focused organizations, its five-year reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, its focus on community planning, and innovative policies such as the City’s Vacants to Value housing redevelopment program.

“We are honored to receive national recognition for the work we are doing in Baltimore to build a healthy, safe, resilient and livable city for all,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who accepted the award from STAR Communities at a June 11th ceremony. “The STAR certification program has provided us with an objective, third-party assessment of conditions in Baltimore today. While we have reached the highest level of certification, we know there is room to improve. With our residents, and neighborhood, faith and business community leaders, I stand ready to prioritize investments going forward that ensure a sustainable future for every resident of this city.”

The STAR Community Rating System provides U.S. cities, towns and counties with a clear, data-driven approach to assessing their social, economic and environmental conditions. Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements across seven goal areas: built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education, arts and community; health and safety; and natural systems. STAR Communities provides support as localities benchmark progress, and a third-party review ensures accountability. Read more about STAR’s assessment of Baltimore here.

“Under the leadership of Mayor Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore has become a national leader in such areas as disaster preparedness, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and expanding local food production and agriculture,” said STAR Communities Executive Director Hilari Varnadore. “We look forward to sharing Baltimore’s success stories with other cities around the country and working with city leaders as they continue to make improvements that benefit the whole community.”

The STAR Community Rating System has three certification levels: 3-STAR Community (200-399 points), 4-STAR Community (400-599 points), and 5-STAR (600+ points). Baltimore received a score of 605.1, which qualifies the City as a 5-STAR Community – a “top tier achiever in national sustainability.”

The Baltimore Office of Sustainability led the review process for the STAR certification, with more than 50 partners collaborating over the past year to collect data to measure the community’s sustainability efforts.

Baltimore received high ratings in several categories, including areas highlighted here:

  • Built Environment: Baltimore performed well in measures related to affordable housing. Roughly 91 percent of Baltimoreans earning the area median income spend less than 45 percent of household income on housing and transit combined – a key benchmark for affordability. Additionally, the City has demonstrated an annual decrease in vehicle miles traveled by vehicle.
  • Climate and Energy: Baltimore has demonstrated a 17.9 percent reduction in community-wide greenhouse gas emissions over the past five years. And the City is a leader in climate adaptation and hazard mitigation and resilience, having just been awarded the national Prize for Progress in Adapting to Climate Change by the American Society of Adaptation Professionals. The award recognized the City’s Disaster Preparedness Project and Plan (DP3) at the National Climate Adaptation Forum held in St. Louis three weeks ago.
  • Education, Arts and Community: Baltimore received high marks for its strong neighborhood culture and focus on local planning. Citywide, 98 percent of residents live within one mile of a community venue that offers free services and events, and the City has 31 Neighborhood Master Plans. The City also has programs that contribute to community progress, such as the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance and Citizens Planning and Housing Association. The City also has a high-level planning entity – Baltimore’s Promise – a citywide partnership that works to coordinate expenditures to create an educational pathway from cradle to the workplace for Baltimore’s children and youth.
  • Health and Safety: Baltimore has made major strides in advancing urban agriculture efforts, with more than 14 acres of public and private land devoted to urban agriculture, and a recent revision to the City code to make it easier to raise goats, chickens and bees. Also, the Baltimore City Public School System has a local wellness policy focused on healthy eating and physical activity.
  • Innovation and Process: The City won points for innovative approach to addressing issues caused by vacant properties, including the Vacants to Value program, which is leading to the redevelopment or many vacant properties.

To learn more about the STAR Community Rating System, visit the STAR Communities website at www.STARcommunities.org. To learn more about the City’s sustainability efforts, visit the Office of Sustainability website at http://www.baltimoresustainability.org.

STAR Communities is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works to evaluate, improve, and certify sustainable communities. The organization administers the STAR Community Rating System (STAR), the nation’s first framework and certification program for measuring social, economic and environmental sustainability at the community or local level.

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