Sustainable Raleigh Milestones
The City of Raleigh is actively engaged in local, national, and international initiatives to make Raleigh a 21st Century City of Innovation. Learn about some of those projects and past milestones.
Raleigh is a certified 4-STAR Community
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 held April 22.
“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.
Electric Vehicles Discussed on Statewide TV
January 24, 2012
The topic was the subject of a WUNC-TV broadcast on OPEN/Net, a statewide television call-in program that connects viewers with government services and issues. Panelists included City of Raleigh Sustainability Manager Paula Thomas, Advanced Energy Director of Transportation Initiatives Jeffrey Barghout, and North Carolina Solar Center Transportation Program Manager Anne Tazewell. During the one hour program panelists answered moderator and viewer questions on electric vehicles.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. visits Raleigh
August 24, 2011
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a successful environmental attorney, was guest speaker at a luncheon to discuss best practices for promoting environmental sustainability and green finance. Addressing more than 250 attendees, Kennedy provided a national perspective on environmental advocacy, lauded the work of North Carolina Riverkeepers, touted the ecological and economic benefits of a decarbonized society and endorsed smart grids. The luncheon was hosted by NC Department of State Treasurer at the North Carolina State University McKimmon Center.
Shyam Reddy visits Raleigh
August 15, 2011
Shyam Reddy and other GSA staff members participated in a Mobile Sustainability Site Tour of the Raleigh area. The tour highlighted the extensive, innovative and nationally recognized environmentally sustainable facilities owned and operated by both municipal and private sector organizations. Reddy also participated in a round-table lunch discussion with local stakeholders and business leaders as well as meeting with local elementary, middle school and college students.
Plug In 2011 Electric Vehicle Events
Plugging In: Progress and Opportunities for Electric Vehicles July 13, 2011
Held at Marbles Kids Museum, this event featured panel discussions and presentations highlighting the City's progress in implementing strategies for the mass roll-out of EVs and explored economic development opportunities. Attendees viewed electric vehicles and EV charging stations. The forum targeted community stakeholders, local businesses, universities and other interested agencies.
Plug In 2011 Conference July 18 - 21, 2011
Held at Raleigh Convention Center, the event featured the latest insights from experts on the technological advances, market research and policy initiatives shaping the future of hybrid and electric transportation. Usually held on the West coast, the Office of Sustainability courted the conference sponsor, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), to hold it on the East coast for the first time. A highlight was "Public Night" which granted the public access to the Exposition hall.
"Revenge of the Electric Car" Screening July 19, 2011
Revenge of the Electric Car, a feature documentary film that follows four entrepreneurs in their effort to bring the electric car back to the world market. Presented as part of Public Night of the Plug-In 2011 conference, the screening was followed by a Q&A panel discussion.
Nov 23, 2010: Electric Vehicle Charging Station - The City of Raleigh dedicated it's first public charging station.
Jan 20, 2010: Solar Array Dedication - Raleigh water plant sprouts new rooftop solar power array.
Feb 24, 2009: Alternative Fuel Program - Raleigh announces electric Plug-In Partnership.