Sustainability efforts in Raleigh

NC State Solar Panels | Photo via @nccleantech on Instagram

When it comes to protecting and preserving the environment, the City of Raleigh is a pioneer. For example, Raleigh was the first municipality in the nation to team up with the Environmental Defense Fund in the Climate Corps Program and the first to pass statewide legislation that allowed cities to enact sustainability-focused projects. Not to mention, there are more than 10,000 acres — and growing —of parks and greenways that exemplify Raleigh’s dedication to keeping the community as green as possible

In 2019, the US Cities Sustainable Development Report found that Raleigh ranked 10th in the nation for sustainability as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This progress can be attributed to the city’s Office of Sustainability, which focuses its efforts on three areas: environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic strength

Keep reading to see for yourself exactly how Raleigh has put itself on the map as an early champion for green cities across the United States. 

Accolades + Innovations

The sheer amount of prestigious recognition Raleigh has received for eco-friendly programs and modernization speaks for itself — here are just a few of the highlights:

Raleigh is…

🥇 The first LED City in the world with a landmark 40% energy savings after switching municipal garages to LED lighting.
🥇 The first municipality in the country to test wireless electric vehicle charging technology.
🥇 One of the first cities to join the US Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement in an effort to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. 

Awards include…

🏆 10th place out of 100 cities in the Environment category for WalletHub’s Greenest Cities in the US report using key indicators such as air quality, green spaces, and greenhouse gas emissions (2019)
🏆  The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association Community Leadership award (2013)
🏆  An Environmental Defense Fund award from the National Climate Corps (2012)
🏆  The Nation’s Most Sustainable Midsize Community from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2011)
🏆  2nd Fastest-Growing Clean Economy Job Growth among 100 Largest Metros by The Brookings Institution (2011)

Most Eco-Friendly Buildings

Did you know? Raleigh hosts more than 102 million square feet of US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified projects. LEED-certified buildings are recognized for their green infrastructure, energy efficiency, and social responsibility.
🌱 Wilders Grove Solid Waste Services Facility | 630 Beacon Lake Drive | LEED Platinum | Renewable geothermal power is used to reduce the energy consumption of the property by 40 percent.
🌱 NC Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research Center | 11 West Jones Street | LEED Platinum | The building relies on a combination of skylights and LEDs to minimize artificial light usage and conserve energy. 

🌱 Raleigh Transit Operations Facility | 4104 Poole Road | LEED Platinum | It is the first integrated maintenance + administration facility in the nation to achieve LEED Platinum certification.
🌱 Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office Building | 217 W. Jones Street | LEED Platinum | There is a rainwater reclamation system on the building for irrigation and nonpotable water use.

How to Help 

The Raleigh City Council has adopted the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 through the Community-wide Climate Action Plan (CCAP). This plan includes encouraging + informing residents on how they can take part in sustainable practices such as composting and water reuse

More information about how you can take part in keeping Raleigh green can be found here, plus there is an interactive map of eco-friendly businesses around the city here.

Contributed by Xenna Smith