National Program Recognizes City As First In The State To Reach Certification
The city of Las Vegas has been formally certified in the STAR Community Rating System® (STAR). The city’s approved final score is 470.4, which qualifies Las Vegas as a Certified 4-STAR Community. The city is the first municipality in Nevada and the 43rd community nationwide to receive this recognition from STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that certifies sustainable communities.
“We’re in good company with other national leaders like Austin, Tucson, Raleigh, Portland and Washington, DC in the 4-STAR rating category,” said Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman. “But our goal is to reach a 5-STAR rating so we will be assessing what steps we need to take locally to get there.”
STAR is the nation’s leading framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing social, economic and environmental performance measures. STAR helps communities evaluate their strengths and weaknesses across seven areas: the built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education, arts and community; health and safety; and natural systems. For instance, communities get credit for reductions in energy use or increased transportation access. STAR Communities provides support as localities benchmark progress, and a third-party review ensures accountability.
In September 2014, the city joined STAR Communities’ Leadership Program, a one-year program that offers support to a cohort of cities and counties as they gather data, report and certify. This effort enabled the city to gather a baseline assessment of Las Vegas’ sustainability progress as well as compare best practices with other communities nationwide.
Information and data was gathered for the certification application throughout 2014-2015 with the assistance of dozens of city staff members, community partners, state agencies, local and regional governments, private sector employers, and the local non-profit, Green Chips.
Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements that are used to determine their rating. There are three STAR certification levels: 3-STAR Community (200-399 points), 4-STAR Community (400-599 points), and 5-STAR (600+ points). The city received its final score of 470.4 points and the Certified 4-STAR Community Rating for national excellence in sustainability. Some highlights from the city’s application include:
- Built Environment: The region, lead by Southern Nevada Water Authority, is a leader in water conservation. The city’s efforts and investments in its parks and public spaces, as well as redevelopment and infill, have been successful. In a recent survey, 74% of Las Vegas residents were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of the community’s parks, recreation programs, and community centers.
- Climate and Energy: The mayor and City Council have long demonstrated a commitment to reducing environmental impacts through investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. These have resulted in cleaner energy sources reducing energy and water use throughout the city and Southern Nevada. Las Vegas’ 2008 Sustainable Energy Strategy set sustainability targets for city operations, city codes, and the community, prompting the City to seek out new means of reducing GHG emissions across the community like simplified permitting and over-the-counter expedited permits for small scale net-metered and distributive generation systems.
- Economy and Jobs: The region has emerged from the recession with a strong economic development plan and has seen growth in employment and sales in targeted economic sectors. The city excelled in Business Retention and Development, achieving full credit. The city has seen an increase in the number of business establishments, increases in annual sales from businesses located in the jurisdiction, and an increase in the number of residents employed and a decrease in the number of residents unemployed over the past three years.
- Education, Arts, and Community: The city has a diverse range of social and cultural events and venues, including The Smith Center for Performing Arts and the 18b Arts District. The Las Vegas Arts Commission supports artists in Las Vegas through a variety of programs. The commission nurtures artists, promotes cultural diversity, and encourages community dialogue.
- Equity and Empowerment: Local and state governments actions have shown improvements in the quality and access to basic human services. The city has adopted multiple programs to support civil and human rights for all residents. The city provides language translation or interpretation services that ensure all residents have access to information about local government programs, services, and operations.
- Health and Safety: The city’s Department of Fire and Rescue, Southern Nevada Health District and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department are national leaders in emergency prevention, preparedness and response and are working to attain healthy and safe outcomes for residents. Healthy Southern Nevada is a great example of a web-based performance management system and source of community health information and population data. The site is a collaboration of the Southern Nevada Health District and community partners.
- Natural Systems: Southern Nevada’s air and water quality are above standards. Conservation and restoration efforts, including the new Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, highlight the region’s commitments to natural resource protection. Las Vegas has also created a plan and advisory board to protect and restore natural resources, working with adjacent jurisdictions, and increasing the land directly connected to regional natural systems to improve ecosystem services.