Sustainability and Energy Management

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Sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. By ensuring environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic prosperity, a sustainable city offers widespread benefits that enhance the quality of life for all residents, present and future. In alignment with Goal 5 of the City of Durham’s Strategic Plan, the General Services Department is committed to the stewardship of the City’s physical and environmental assets through thoughtful planning and operations that ensure the long-term viability of the City’s infrastructure, facilities, and environment.

At the heart of the General Services Department’s mission is building and maintaining the City properties that make Durham a great place to live, work and play.  As a team, we construct, deliver, and maintain sustainable, high-quality, visually appealing infrastructure.  When it comes to environmental sustainability, all divisions within the department work together, with a focus on energy efficiency, pollution/litter reduction, and global warming prevention.

Our current sustainability initiatives for FY 2019-20 include:

  • Implementing the City’s newly-created Sustainability Roadmap
  • Making our buildings more energy-efficient and exploring net-zero buildings
  • Evaluating City-owned buildings and sites for solar potential
  • Publishing an annual City Energy Report to benchmark local government energy use and make energy data available to the public
  • Planting an average of 1500 new trees in the City’s right-of-way annually – 85% in historically under-represented communities
  • Partnering with the Parks and Recreation Department to promote public art throughout the City
  • Implementing litter prevention campaign in public schools
  • Investigating options for natural burials in our City cemeteries

Recent sustainability related accomplishments include:

City of Durham Sustainability Roadmap

The Roadmap is the City’s commitment to doing our part to ensure economic prosperity, a healthy environment, and an equitable society in Durham. The plan was developed by a cross-departmental team of City employees and encompasses ideas and input from all levels of the organization, as well as Durham residents. This document is a guidebook for employees from every division and department throughout the City government to align our services, programs and spending with our community vision for a sustainable future. It is also an open invitation to Durham residents, local business owners, nonprofit leaders, and community groups to join in this important work.

STAR Community Certification

The City of Durham has been recognized as a 4-STAR Community for national excellence in sustainability through the STAR Community Rating System, the nation’s leading framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability using standardized performance measures. Through the STAR certification process, Durham was evaluated across eight goal areas related to environmental, social, and economic sustainability. This process assisted the City in assessing and recognizing our current sustainability efforts, identifying opportunities for growth, and developing feasible goals and strategies to integrate into the City of Durham Sustainability Roadmap.