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King County, WA Receives a 4-STAR Community Rating

County Recognized for National Sustainability Excellence


November 16, 2016

King County, WA –STAR Communities is pleased to announce that King County has formally earned a Certified 4-STAR Community Rating and has been recognized for national excellence in sustainability. King County is the 3rd community in Washington and 54th nationwide to achieve certification from STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that evaluates and certifies sustainable communities. Other STAR-Certified Washington communities include Seattle and Tacoma.

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 robust third-party verification process ensures accountability.

“King County embraces a comprehensive approach to sustainability, coordinating our environmental, land-use, transit and cultural resources to help build strong communities,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We also look for opportunities to expand equity and economic opportunity in all that we do. We are proud of our partnership with STAR Communities and our 4-STAR Community Rating, which recognizes our continuing efforts to ensure the region will be a great place to live, work and play for generations.”

Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements, which then are used to determine their rating. There are three STAR certification levels: 3-STAR (200-399 points), 4-STAR (400-599 points), and 5-STAR (600+ points). The county received a final score of 416.5 points, qualifying for the Certified 4-STAR Community Rating for national excellence in sustainability. Some highlights from the county’s application include:

  • Economy & Jobs: Residents of King County have experienced a steady rise in income in recent years – a 3.8% increase between 2000 and 2014 when adjusting for inflation. In addition, over 80% of households meet or exceed the living wage standard. Programs such as the King County Jobs Initiative, which assists low-income adults in preparing for and finding living-wage jobs, are a key part of this success.
  • Education, Arts & Community: King County’s high performance in this topic area demonstrated the community’s commitment to education and the arts. Key indicators include: 6.3% of businesses are located within the creative industries, 35% of adults attend a live performing arts event annually, and over 97% of residents live within a mile of a community venue.
  • Health & Safety:  Sales at the 41 farmers markets within King County have increased by over $5 million from 2013-2015, up to over $17 million.
  • Natural Systems: King County set a target goal of conserving 4,720 acres through private conservation easements and public ownership efforts between 2009 and 2014. Over that time period, the County conserved 6,570 acres, exceeding their target by 39%.

King County is an early adopter of the STAR Community Rating System, as a part of the pilot program launched in 2012. Information and data was gathered for the certification application with the assistance of dozens of county staff members, community-based organizations, state agencies, the City of Seattle and other local and regional governments, and private sector employers.

In addition to gathering data for certification, King County used the guidance and measures in the rating system to help align local efforts with national standards. King County staff members have also been instrumental in contributing to the development of STAR, especially with regards to social and racial equity measures and standards, and have served on STAR’s governance and technical committees over recent years.

“Sustainable cities provide a healthy environment, support a strong economy, and continually improve the well-being of the community,” said Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director of STAR Communities. “We appreciate the leadership and contributions that King County has made to the development of STAR and are proud to award the County with the Certified 4-STAR Community Rating.” Hundreds of communities are actively using the STAR Community Rating System around the country, with more than 80 engaged in the certification process.

STAR Communities works to evaluate, improve, and certify sustainable communitiesThe organization administers the STAR Community Rating System, the nation’s first framework and certification program for local sustainability. For more information, visit www.STARcommunities.org. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @STARCommunities.


Contact: Lacey Shaver, Community Engagement Manager, STAR Communities

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