GovNews: City of Bellevue, WA achieves high marks with STAR Communities rating

ARTICLE | May 2, 2018
Courtesy of City of Bellevue, WA

4-STAR ranking demonstrates city’s commitment to sustainability and innovation

STAR Communities announced Monday that the City of Bellevue has been awarded a 4-STAR Community Rating for national leadership in sustainability. The city joins a small group of communities in the nation to receive this recognition from STAR Communities for its participation in the program. The nonprofit organization helps evaluate the livability and sustainability of American cities and counties.

Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements across seven goal areas, which are used to determine their rating. These areas range from “climate and energy” to “economy and jobs” to “equity and empowerment.”

There are three STAR certification levels: 3-STAR Community (250-449 points); 4-STAR Community (450-649 points); or 5-STAR (650+ points). During the evaluation process, Bellevue racked up an impressive score of 549.07.

“Bellevue is the ‘city where you want to be’ and you can see that reflected in our 4-STAR Community rating,” said Mayor John Chelminiak. “Being nationally recognized as a sustainable community further demonstrates our commitment to supporting a healthy environment, strong economy and well-being for all residents in Bellevue.”

Several efforts stood out among Bellevue’s sustainability and livability initiatives. These highlights include:

  • 73 percent of Bellevue residents live within 1/3 of a mile walk to a park, open space or trailhead. 
  • Bellevue’s 19 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents greatly exceeds the STAR target of seven acres. 
  • Per capita greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage in the city are declining.
  • Bellevue has a number of programs and incentives in partnership with Puget Sound Energy to reduce energy use.
  • The number of businesses in Bellevue is growing, contributing to the city’s low unemployment rate.
  • Bellevue’s schools are safe and educational quality is high, as measured by school violence statistics, third-grade reading scores and overall graduation rates. 
  • Bellevue residents are highly educated with 66 percent of those 25 years and over having a bachelor’s degree or higher. 
  • Bellevue’s Diversity Initiative provides a comprehensive approach to increasing equity, celebrating diversity and building cultural competency. 
  • Access to and support for the arts and cultural amenities is high in Bellevue and in the region. 
  • Bellevue’s Human Services Needs Update and associated funding strives to meet the needs of Bellevue’s vulnerable populations.

“The STAR rating process gives cities a roadmap for how they can refine and improve their operations to drive continuous improvement,” said Hilari Varnadore, executive director of STAR Communities. “The City of Bellevue should be applauded for its commitment to sustainability, and for the clarity and transparency provided while achieving its goals.”

The STAR Community Rating System was initiated and supported by founding partners ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, the U.S. Green Building Council, National League of Cities and the Center for American Progress. Its work is supported through community subscriptions and generous foundation grants from these national philanthropic organizations.

Bellevue’s full report is on the Environmental Stewardship page. STAR Communities has a full list of the communities involved.

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