Sustainability and Energy Management

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 and climate change mitigation.

Our current sustainability initiatives for FY 2020-21 include:

  • Developing a Carbon Neutrality and Renewable Energy Action Plan with the assistance of GDS Associates, Inc.
  • Implementing the City’s Sustainability Roadmap
  • Conducting ASHRAE Level 2 energy audits in our buildings to identify energy-saving opportunities
  • Exploring participation in Duke Energy’s Green Source Advantage Program to obtain electricity generated by solar energy
  • Installing solar arrays on two existing City buildings
  • Converting all City buildings to high-efficiency LED lighting
  • Installing electric vehicle charging stations for public and City fleet use
  • Publishing an annual City Energy Report to benchmark local government energy use and make energy data available to the public
  • Planting up to 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

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.  A user-friendly Sustainability Roadmap Dashboard is now available, containing data charts and progress reports that are updated twice annually.

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. The STAR Community Rating System is now managed by the U.S. Green Building Council as part of their LEED for Cities and Communities Program. The City of Durham will be applying for LEED for Cities Certification in 2021.