District Rated Third-Most-Sustainable City in the United States
October 2nd, 2014
Last month, the District of Columbia received the third-highest rating among the 20 US communities certified under the STAR Community Rating System (STAR). STAR, the nation’s first citywide sustainability rating system, helps communities evaluate themselves across seven areas such as the built environment, economy, health, and natural systems. One of only seven cities ranked at the 4-STAR level, the District was also awarded the highest 4-STAR rating to date, surpassing cities such as Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon.
“This 4-STAR rating shows the progress we are making on our Sustainable DC Plan and how we fare compared to other cities – many of them larger than us,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “The District consistently scores high on a host of city rankings for sustainability and quality of life. But none are as comprehensive as STAR, helping us understand where we are doing well and where we need to dedicate resources to become a truly sustainable city.”
“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. “Washington, DC is an excellent example of a city with a strong commitment to sustainability and to being transparent about progress toward its goals.”
More than 80 communities are actively using the STAR Community Rating System, with more than 30 currently pursuing certification.
The District far exceeded the 400 points necessary to achieve the 4-STAR rating, earning 534 points out of a possible 720, and fared particularly well in the areas of the built environment; economy and jobs; and education, arts, and community. Notable achievements within the assessment include:
• A near-perfect score for acreage, proximity and use of, as well as public satisfaction with, parks and public spaces;
• Being the first city in the nation to offer a stormwater-retention-credit-trading system;
• A near-perfect score for establishment of new businesses and high employment rates;
• Increasing high school graduation rates among underperforming groups, including African Americans, Asians, and Latinos as well as those enrolled in special education.
Areas for improvement included natural systems and equity and empowerment.
The District government will analyze the STAR results and focus on recommended areas for improvement. Using Sustainable DC as a foundation, and in partnership with community organizations and residents, the District will continue to implement strategies and programs to address these areas of concern. The District’s 4-STAR Community rating is effective for three years, at which point the city will be reevaluated.
The District government and several District-based organizations were fundamental in the formation and development of STAR, which took more than four years of analysis and planning by STAR staff and hundreds of volunteer experts. The US Green Building Council and National League of Cities — both based in the District — were key partners in development. The Summit Foundation, also District-based, was an early and principal funder of the development process for this national platform to advance urban sustainability.