Plano, TX Recognized for National Sustainability Excellence
STAR Communities awards a 4-STAR Rating to the City of Plano
Plano, TX – Last week, Plano, TX was awarded a 4-STAR Community Rating for national leadership in sustainability. The City is the second city in Texas and 32nd in the nation to receive recognition from STAR Communities for its participation in the STAR Community Rating System, which evaluates the livability and sustainability of U.S. communities.
The STAR Community Rating System is a robust sustainability rating system for cities, towns, and counties, which helps communities evaluate themselves across seven areas related to sustainability, such as 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 provides support as localities benchmark progress, and a third-party review ensures accountability.
“The 4-STAR certification makes a powerful statement about Plano as a true City of Excellence,” said Mayor Harry LaRosiliere. “The STAR organization has only awarded a few communities a sustainability rating this high. In fact, we’re only the second city in Texas to achieve this status. We pride ourselves on being a great place to live, work and play and this certification just confirms what we’ve known all along: Our environment is healthy, our economy is strong and people can thrive in Plano.” The City’s award will be formally presented to the Mayor and City Council at their Council meeting on June 22nd.
The STAR framework is comprehensive, including everything from how safe residents feel, how successful schools are, and how fast emergency response times are, to things like workforce readiness, housing affordability, and civic engagement. Over 20 partners and 23 city departments and divisions collaborated over the past nine months to collect data to measure the community’s progress towards national sustainability standards. Plano scored highest in the “Health & Safety” and “Education, Arts & Community” categories. Notable achievements within the assessment include:
- Built Environment: Plano holds 15.4 park acres per 1,000 residents and runs partnerships like “Keep Plano Beautiful” to maintain public spaces. Parks promote active living lifestyles, provide environmental and health benefits, and also provide a venue for community programming. The City is also meeting standards for drinking water quality, safe wastewater management, and safe stormwater management.
- Economy & Jobs: Plano scored well in Business Retention & Development, demonstrating that 399 new businesses have been created in the past 3 years, along with increasing employment rates and decreasing unemployment rates. This was supplemented by actions such as the creation of a tax increment finance (TIF) district to encourage economic reinvestment along the DART rail corridor, and trainings held by the Collin County Small Business Development Center.
- Education, Arts & Community: 90% of Plano residents live within one mile of a community venue that is open to the public and offers free services and/or events. This contributes to a high level of Community Cohesion. Plano also was able to demonstrate high educational achievement – 92% of 3rd grade students meet or exceed reading proficiency standards and the City has a 96.3% average 4-year adjusted cohort high school graduation rate for all public schools in the jurisdiction.
- Health & Safety: Plano is a top performer in the state in terms of community health indicators, such as mortality, tobacco use, and diet and exercise. Plano is also a very safe community. The City of Plano Fire Department has been recognized by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) as a Class 1 rating. This distinction signifies that Plano provides among the nation’s best public protection. The City also demonstrated significantly lower crime rates than many other US jurisdictions.
Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements across seven goal areas 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). Plano received a score of 431.6, which qualifies them as a 4-STAR Community, recognized for “national excellence” in sustainability. Only two cities have received a 5-STAR Community rating, the highest achievable. Other 4-STAR Communities include Austin, TX; Dubuque, IA; and Washington, DC.
“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. “The data and information that Plano gathered through the process should help them continue to make improvements that benefit the whole community.” Nearly 100 communities are actively using the STAR Community Rating System, with more than 60 engaged in the certification process.
To learn more about the STAR Community Rating System, visit the STAR Communities website at www.STARcommunities.org. To learn more about sustainability in Plano, visit: http://www.livegreeninplano.com. View Plano’s score report at: https://reporting.starcommunities.org/communities/74-plano-texas.
Download this press release.
STAR Communities works to evaluate, improve, and certify sustainable communities. The 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.