Raleigh's Commitment to Sustainability

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How Raleigh Defines Sustainability Environmental Stewardship Social Equity Economic Strength Past Accolades and Leadership

Sustainability is a broad term that addresses three fundamental principles: economic strength, environmental stewardship, and social equity. We believe a sustainable community is a thriving community, one that provides opportunity for all residents, cares for the environment, and has a vision for the future. 

How Raleigh Defines Sustainability

At its core, sustainability is about meeting the needs of our present community without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Raleigh's Office of Sustainability was created in 2008 to provide guidance on policies and goals for the City of Raleigh. 

The Office of Sustainability is part of the City Manager's Office and works collaboratively with all City departments. We also partner with local business community, universities, and civic and non-profit organizations. 

We believe that when people, the environment, and the economy work together, we can harness innovation and find opportunities to continue to build a more sustainable and resilient future for Raleigh. 

Environmental Stewardship

Environmental stewardship is the conservation and protection our natural resources, air, water, and land.  Raleigh uses best practices and cutting edge conservation, land use, infrastructure and building technologies.  

Raleigh has been committed to environmental stewardship for decades. The City endorsed the US Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement in 2007 and has since completed two greenhouse gas emissions inventories.  

On May 21, 2019, the City Council adopted a community-wide goal of an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To help achieve this goal, the City is preparing a Community-wide Climate Action Plan (CCAP) which will include emissions reduction strategies that take into account the well-being of all community members. Additionally, we work to reduce the amount of waste going to our landfills through recycling programs, we are committed to increasing the amount of green stormwater infrastructure to reduce flooding and improve our water quality, and we will be capturing methane from our wastewater treatment process and converting it to compressed natural gas to power our city buses. 

Social Equity

Social equity involves all people having access to the opportunities and resources necessary to meet their essential needs, support their wellbeing, and achieve their full potential. For City of Raleigh residents, quality of life is the most personal aspect of sustainability. It embodies how we live as individuals, families, and as a community. 

The City works to support communities, provide life skills for youth, and meaningful civic engagement and volunteerism opportunities for all residents. We work with residents on housing affordability and offer resources to help save money on their energy costs. We are dedicated to improving social equity, increasing opportunity, and enhancing quality of life.  

Economic Strength

Raleigh is a thriving city. We are growing in population and attracting new enterprises every day. Sustainability ensures that this growth can continue, while being mindful of the impacts it has on our people and our planet.  

The City of Raleigh values, seeks and fosters economic development opportunities that recruit and grow environmentally conscious industries and businesses while promoting sustainable practices and reducing negative impacts on the environment. This includes business development and expansion, entrepreneurship, and equitable economic development. The City has a sustainable purchasing policy, performs life-cycle costs analysis in capital projects, and analyzes its fuel consumption to seek cost savings. 

Past Accolades and Leadership

Raleigh's sustainability efforts and initiatives have improved the quality of life for all residents, promote emerging technologies, create new job opportunities and cultivate local businesses and entrepreneurs. Achievements in this arena have garnered the City numerous awards and accolades, and make Raleigh a leader in sustainability. 

April 2015 STAR Award  

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 provided a robust sustainability rating system for cities, towns, and counties, where communities evaluate themselves across seven goal areas related to sustainability.  

November 2013 Community Leadership award 

The City of Raleigh Office of Sustainability won the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) 2013 Community Leadership award which recognizes any non-profit or government organization advancing sustainable energy through notable accomplishments, innovative programs or exemplary leadership in North Carolina. 

The City won for six major sustainability projects: BigBelly Solar Trash Compactors, Raleigh Police Vehicle Propane Hybrid Conversion, Electric Vehicle Infrastructure, Downtown Raleigh Sustainability Walking Tour, Police Anti-Idling Technology, and Solar Photo Voltaic and Sustainability Kiosk.  

May 2013 PTI Awards 
The Public Technology Institute (PTI) selected the City of Raleigh Office of Sustainability to receive six PTI 2012 - 2013 Solutions Awards for outstanding achievements in local government applications of technology that enhance community services, improve internal operations and reduce costs. The Office of Sustainability was recognized for accomplishments that demonstrate collaboration, innovation and dedication to public service in Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) and Sustainability. 

  • 2012-2013 PTI Award for GIS was given to the Downtown Raleigh Sustainability Walking Tour that includes an online map featuring information, the walking trail, photos, video vignettes and walking distance calculations. The map is also accessed using the City's first QR code. The JouleBug sustainability mobile app allows users to earn pins and badges for taking the Downtown Raleigh Sustainability Walking Tour. 
  • 2012-2013 PTI Award for Sustainability was given to the BigBelly Solar for Waste and Recycling project. The Office of Sustainability partnered with the City's Solid Waste Services Department to install 45 BigBelly Solar trash compactors that use solar photovoltaic panels to compact waste and send a wireless signal to service specialists when a pickup is required. According to data gathered during the 2012 pilot phase, annual collection costs in the Glenwood South and Fayetteville Street areas dropped from $52,959 to $1,722. This technology saves time, fuel and money while encouraging recycling and reducing the City's carbon footprint. 
  • 2012-2013 PTI Award for Sustainability was given to the City of Raleigh Police Vehicle Propane Hybrid Conversion project. The Office of Sustainability partnered with the Police Department to convert 20 patrol cars to propane hybrids which run primarily on the cheaper fuel while reducing carbon emissions and making the cars more efficient in major emergencies or disasters. During a 12-month period the City realized $80,400 in savings. The City also developed a support infrastructure and trained employees to perform installation and maintenance of this technology. 
  • 2013-2013 PTI Significant Achievement Award in Sustainability was given to the City of Raleigh Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure project. The Office of Sustainability worked with City departments and local businesses to develop the City's fleet, develop the technology-based infrastructure for EV charging stations and operational expertise, and remove and reduce barriers to electric vehicle adoption. The City installed 29 EV charging stations including a solar powered charging station. Periscope software monitors use of the charging stations. 
  • 2012-2013 PTI Significant Achievement Award in Sustainability was given to the City of Raleigh Police Anti-Idling Technology project. The Office of Sustainability partnered with the Raleigh Police Department to install anti-idling technology in 29 of the City's police fleet vehicles. During just the first quarter of usage, these 29 units saved approximately 962 gallons of fossil fuel and prevented 33,659.6 ghost miles (potential miles that could have been traveled during the time a vehicle idles). 
  • 2012-2013 PTI Significant Achievement Award in Sustainability for the Solar Photo Voltaic and Sustainability Kiosk for the Raleigh Convention Center (RCC). Raleigh has multiple solar arrays on different sites. The City wished to show the individual sites as well as aggregate the data to show total renewable power generation. The Office of Sustainability worked with various departments and local businesses to create and build an internet based kiosk located at RCC with an interactive touch screen monitor to display this information. 


  • Raleigh received an Environmental Defense Fund award in recognition of the City's efforts and continued partnership with the National Climate Corps program. Raleigh is the first city in the United States to participate in the program which places top-tier students working towards a Master's Degree in business administration with leading organizations to identify and implement energy efficiency plans. 
  • Raleigh is recognized as a Community Champion for Plug-In Electric Vehicle Readiness by Advanced Energy, the Triangle J Council of Governments, and the NC PEV Taskforce 


  • Raleigh named the Nation's Most Sustainable Midsize Community by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Siemens for the City's commitment to developing a 'green economy.' Specifically cited was the Green Building Training program and Raleigh's leadership in electric vehicle infrastructure. 
  • Raleigh receives the Triangle CREW Champion Award for Community Enhancement 
  • Raleigh receives the NC Mobile CARE Policy/Organization Award for efforts in improving air quality 


  • Raleigh is the first community in North Carolina to achieve certification through the national STAR Community Rating System (STAR); Raleigh received a 4-STAR rating. STAR is a robust sustainability rating system for cities, towns, and counties, where communities evaluate themselves across seven goal areas related to sustainability. 
  • Raleigh is recognized as a Community Champion for Plug-In Electric Vehicle Readiness by Advanced Energy, the Triangle Council of Governments, and the NC PEV Taskforce 
  • Raleigh is the first municipality nationwide to test wireless electric vehicle charging technology. 
  • Recognized as a global leader in "2012 EV Casebook: A Look at the Global EV Movement" report by Center for Climate & Energy Solutions (C2ES) 
  • One of the first three U.S. cities, and only city on the east coast, to participate with Rocky Mountain Institute's "Project Get Ready" to prepare for national roll-out of PEVs. 
  • LEED Platinum - Wilder's Grove Services Center is the nation's first integrated solid waste facility 
  • LEED Platinum - Raleigh Transit Facility is the nation's first integrated administration and maintenance facility 
  • LEED Silver Certified - Raleigh Convention Center is one of the first two new construction convention centers nationwide 
  • First municipality in the nation to use Periscope software system to monitor use of electric vehicle charging stations and to provide enhanced energy use analytics in buildings 
  • First LED City in the World 
  • Installed first thin-film photovoltaic panels in southeastern United States 
  • First municipality in the nation to partner with the Environmental Defense Fund in the Climate Corps Program 
  • First municipality to develop state legislation allowing cities to implement sustainability-focused projects that benefit their community 
  • First large-scale Solar LED Off-Grid Lighting project in North Carolina 

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