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Raleigh, NC receives 4-STAR Rating


APRIL 23, 2015

Raleigh, NC Recognized for National Sustainability Excellence

STAR Communities awards a 4-STAR Rating to the City of Raleigh


Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and the staff of the Office of Sustainability pose with their 4-STAR plaque and Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director of STAR Communities.

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and the staff of the Office of Sustainability pose with their 4-STAR plaque and Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director of STAR Communities.

Raleigh, NC — Raleigh received a 4-STAR Community Rating for national excellence in sustainability,  the first community in North Carolina to achieve certification through the national STAR Community Rating System (STAR). STAR is a robust sustainability rating system for cities, towns, and counties, where communities evaluate themselves across seven goal areas related to sustainability. Ten additional communities achieved a 4-STAR rating including Austin, TX; Tucson, AZ; and Washington, DC.

STAR Communities’ Executive Director Hilari Varnadore presented the community’s 4-STAR rating to Mayor Nancy McFarlane during the 2015 City of Raleigh Environmental Awards celebration on April 22. Raleigh’s annual Environmental Awards event recognizes individuals and organizations dedicated to being good stewards of the community’s environment.

“The City of Raleigh has a long commitment to sustainability with a focus not only on environmental stewardship but also on economic strength and social equity,” said Mayor McFarlane. “The 4-STAR Community Rating for national excellence is a culmination of the hard work and innovative ideas of City staff and the community in not only promoting sustainable ideas but recognizing sustainable programs as a cornerstone of Raleigh’s future.”

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; equity and empowerment; health and safety; and natural systems. There are three STAR certification levels: 3-STAR (200-399 points); 4-STAR (400-599 points); and 5-STAR (600+ points).  Raleigh received a score of 437.5, which qualifies it as a 4-STAR Community, recognized for “national excellence” in sustainability. Only two cities have received a 5-STAR Community rating, the highest achievable.

“Sustainable cities provide a healthy environment, support a strong economy, and continually improve the well-being of the community,” said Varnadore. “The data and information that Raleigh gathered through the process should help the City and its partners 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.

The City’s Office of Sustainability worked with City and county staff, local colleges and universities and numerous community partners to gather the data required for certification. Raleigh’s notable achievements include:

  • Built Environment: Raleigh meets high standards for drinking water quality, secure water supply, and wastewater and stormwater management. In times of drought, a water-shortage response plan automatically goes into effect.
  • Education, Arts, and Community:  Raleigh offers a broad range of arts, cultural resources, and activities that celebrate and respect diversity. The City provides financial or logistical support to local arts, festivals and performances. Raleigh also provides leadership and training programs that encourage and support diverse perspectives in community decision-making.
  • Economy & Jobs: Raleigh fosters economic prosperity and stability by retaining and expanding businesses. The City has experienced an increase in the market demand for green certified building stock as well as other products and services that protect the environment.
  • Health & Safety: Raleigh received extra credit for being an exceptionally safe community, by demonstrating that they are significantly below the national thresholds for homicides, rape or attempted rape, and aggravated assaults.
  • Innovation & Process: The Raleigh City Council unanimously adopted an Open Source Resolution in 2012, demonstrating commitment to creating an open-source strategy to promote transparency, collaboration, and improved access to local government information and data. This will contribute to Equity in Access and Services and promoting a “Smart Cities” approach in local government.

“The process of pursuing our STAR certification helped identify Raleigh’s strengths as well as opportunities for improvement. This information will guide us in the implementation of the City’s Strategic Plan; inform the upcoming five-year update of the 2030 Comprehensive Plan; assist with the development of revised performance measures; and advise departmental work plans,” said Paula Stroup, interim manager of the City’s Office of Sustainability.

To learn more about the STAR Community Rating System, visit the STAR Communities website at www.STARcommunities.org. To learn more about sustainability in Raleigh, visit: http://www.raleighnc.gov/sustainableraleigh.

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.


Contact:  Lacey Shaver

Community Engagement Manager

STAR Communities


(855) 890-7827 ext. 105

Download Word version of the press release.

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