Winston-Salem, NC –Winston-Salem’s efforts to promote sustainability have been recognized by STAR Communities, which has designated the city a 3-STAR Community for national leadership in sustainability. STAR Communities is a national non-profit that promotes and evaluates the livability and sustainability of U.S. communities.
Winston-Salem is the second city in North Carolina to be certified through the STAR Community Rating System, along with Raleigh, reported Hilari Varnadore, the executive director of STAR Communities.
“Sustainable cities provide a healthy environment, support a strong economy, and continually improve the well-being of the community,” Varnadore said. “Winston-Salem should be applauded for its commitment to sustainability, and for the clarity and transparency provided while achieving its goals.”
The STAR certification program helps communities evaluate themselves in seven areas related to sustainability, among them “Economy and Jobs,” “Climate and Energy,” and “Built Environment.” For instance, communities get credit for reductions in energy use, increased transportation access or increased investment in locally owned and operated financial institutions. The evaluations are reviewed by a third party to ensure accountability, said Wendell Hardin, the city’s sustainability director.
“While we are proud of our community coming together to accomplish this recognition, and of being only the second city within North Carolina to achieve a STAR rating, this is just a starting point,” Hardin said. “We will take what we have learned from this experience and continue to work on becoming a better city for all our residents and businesses.”
Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements across the seven areas, which are used to determine their rating. There are four STAR certification levels: Reporting Community (50-199 points); 3-STAR Community (200-399 points); 4-STAR Community (400-599 points); or 5-STAR (600+ points). Winston-Salem received a score of 258.4, which qualifies it as a 3-STAR Community, recognized for sustainability leadership.
According to STAR’s evaluation, several efforts stood out among Winston-Salem‘s sustainability measures, among them:
- 89.6% of residents live within one mile of a community venue, such as a school, library or recreation center.
- The graduation rate since 2013 has increased by almost 2 percent.
- There has been a 3.1% increase since 2013 in the percentage of residents within a walkable quarter mile of a retail outlet for healthy food.
Winston-Salem is one of more than 70 local governments that have participated in the year-long Leadership Program with STAR Communities. Today, more than 100 communities, representing over 40 million residents, participate in STAR. Other 3-STAR certified communities include Albany, New York; De Moines, Iowa; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Atlanta, Georgia.
To view the full list of communities involved, go to STARcommunities.org/communities. To view Winston-Salem’s full report, go to https://reporting.starcommunities.org/communities/150-north-carolina-winston-salem.
STAR Communities, founded in 2012, grew out of an initiative by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, the U.S. Green Building Council, the Center for American Progress and the National League of Cities to address the needs of U.S. cities, towns, and counties seeking a common framework for setting sustainability goals and guiding principles.