Henderson Becomes a Shining STAR

Nevada City Recognized for Work on Sustainability

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Andy Hafen is mayor of Henderson, Nev.

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 9:30 am

The city of Henderson, Nev., has become the latest U.S. city to be formally certified in the STAR Community Rating System. The city's approved final score is 426.1, which qualifies Henderson as a Certified 4-STAR Community.

The city is the 45th community nationwide to achieve certification from STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that certifies sustainable communities.

"This designation confirms that the city's dedicated effort to make our community, and our organization, more sustainable has been successful," said Mayor Andy Hafen, who first unveiled the achievement at the State of the City address.

In March 2015, the city joined STAR Communities' Leadership Program, a one-year program that offers support to a cohort of cities and counties as they gather data, report and certify. This effort enabled the city to gather a baseline assessment of Henderson's sustainability progress, as well as compare best practices with other communities nationwide.

Some highlights from the city's application include:

  • Built Environment: The city of Henderson's Parks and Recreation Department has invested approximately $150 million in the community over the past three years. This investment improves and maintains the 34.4 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents and it provides dozens of programs and events at the 58 neighborhood and community parks, 11 aquatic facilities, and eight recreation centers in Henderson.
  • Climate and Energy: The city of Henderson identified flash flooding, water resources, emergency management, and energy supply and demand as areas of climate adaptation concern. By implementing key recommendations from a variety of local planning efforts, the city was able to demonstrate a reduction in its vulnerability to these hazards. The city also demonstrated that 15.84 percent of the community's energy supply comes from renewable energy sources.
  • Economy and Jobs: The city of Henderson's economy has improved over the past 3 years. More than 1,600 new businesses have been created, unemployment has decreased and employment has increased. Specifically, healthcare, IT, and tourism sectors have all seen strong improvements in sales and new business establishments. The healthcare sector demonstrated a 3-year average increase of more than 2,700 jobs between 2011-2013.
  • Health and Safety: The violent crime rate in the city of Henderson is well below STAR's national thresholds. This is reflected in citizen opinion of community safety; over 90 percent of residents responded that they feel safe in their neighborhood in a 2015 survey.

Information and data was gathered for the certification application throughout 2015 with the assistance of dozens of city staff members, community partners, state agencies, local and regional governments, and private sector employers.

"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. "The data and information that Henderson gathered through the process will them continue to make improvements that benefit the whole community." Hundreds of communities are actively using the STAR Community Rating System around the country, with more than 70 engaged in the certification process.

Incorporated in 1953, Henderson is now the second largest city in Nevada, after Las Vegas. It has been recognized by various media as one of America's Best Places to Live, one of the top six Safest Cities in America and designated a Bicycle Friendly Community as well as an Age-Friendly City.

STAR is a framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing social, economic and environmental performance measures. STAR helps communities evaluate their 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. STAR Communities provides support as localities benchmark progress, and a third-party review ensures accountability.

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