City Recognized for National Sustainability
Kansas City, Missouri, is joining a national fellowship of cities being recognized for innovative operating practices that contribute to a healthy environment, a strong economy and enhance the overall well-being of the community.
The City earned a 4-STAR Community Rating for sustainability excellence, becoming the highest rated city in the state. Columbia and St. Louis have 3-star ratings.
KCMO is the 57th U.S. city to gain certification from STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that evaluates and certifies sustainable communities.
“This is a significant achievement for Kansas City, Missouri, and I have to commend the staff not only for the hard work they put into this extensive certification process, but also all the employees citywide who continuously strive to make sure we operate at the highest possible level,’’ City Manager Troy Schulte said.
STAR is the nation’s leading 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 robust third-party verification process ensures accountability.
Last fall, Kansas City launched a yearlong certification program that provides resources and assistance from STAR staff. Information and data was gathered for the application with the assistance of dozens of staff members, community partners and other agencies.
Highlights from the City’s application include:
- Built Environment: Kansas City’s robust park system was a key component to a strong score in this goal area. The park system provides residents with 37.9 acres per 1,000 residents and 96.7% of households are within three-miles of an off-road trail.
- Climate & Energy: The City has installed 25 kW solar generating systems on the rooftops of 59 municipal buildings and done so without any capital expense by utilizing long-term leases and a long-term solar services agreement.
- Economy & Jobs: In recent years, the economy of Kansas City has experienced growth. More than 1,000 new businesses were established from 2012-2014 and unemployment has also dropped over that same time period.
- Natural Systems: Several metrics point to the City’s commitment to the natural environment: 99.9% of residents are within a ½ -mile walk of a green infrastructure feature, there has been a 59% increase in the number of sustainable harvesters since 2009, and air quality has improved, as seen through a decrease of measured pollutants and days the air quality index exceeds 100.
“We appreciate the leadership and contributions that Kansas City has made to the development of STAR and are proud to award the City with the Certified 4-STAR Community Rating,’’ said Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director of STAR Communities.
Hundreds of communities around the country are actively using the STAR Community Rating System, with more than 70 engaged in the certification process.
To learn about sustainability in Kansas City, please visit: www.kcmo.gov/kcgreen.