The city of Kansas City, MO received a top national rating for sustainability, giving it the highest ranking of any city in the state.
The city earned a 4-STAR Community rating for its contribution to environmental and economic sustainability. Lawrence, KS also received a 4-Star rating. St. Louis and Columbia each received 3-star ratings. Kansas City is the 57th U.S. city to gain certification from STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that evaluates and certifies sustainable communities. The top ranking is 5-Star, which was earned by Baltimore, MD; Cambridge, MA; Northampton, MA and Seattle, WA.
“This is a significant achievement for Kansas City, Missouri, and I have to commend the staff not only for the hard work they put into this extensive certification process, but also all the employees citywide who continuously strive to make sure we operate at the highest possible level,’’ said Troy Schulte, city manager.
STAR is the nation’s leading program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing social, economic and environmental performance measures. STAR helps communities evaluate strengths and weaknesses across seven areas: the 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.
Highlights from the city’s efforts include:
- Built Environment: Kansas City’s robust park system was a key component to a strong score in this goal area. The park system provides residents with 37.9 acres per 1,000 residents and 96.7 percent of households are within three-miles of an off-road trail.
- Climate & Energy: The city has installed 25 kW solar generating systems on the rooftops of 59 municipal buildings without any capital expense by utilizing long-term leases and a long-term solar services agreement.
- Economy & Jobs: In recent years, the economy of Kansas City has experienced growth with more than 1,000 new businesses established from 2012-2014 and a drop in unemployment.
- Natural Systems: There was a 59 percent increase in the number of sustainable harvesters since 2009; air quality has improved with a decrease of measured pollutants and days the air quality index exceeds 100; and 99.9 percent of residents are within a half-mile walk of a green infrastructure feature.