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STAR Communities: First National Rating System Released for Sustainable Communities

by Don Knapp

Last week was huge for the sustainable cities movement. ICLEI released its national greenhouse gas standard, the Community Protocol, and STAR Communities released the STAR Community Rating System. Here's the press release from STAR Communities, which ICLEI supports as a founding partner:

STAR Communities announced the release of the STAR Community Rating System Version 1.0 (STAR) at the Urban Sustainability Directors Network annual meeting held at Portland State University on Monday. STAR is the nation’s first voluntary framework for evaluating and quantifying the sustainability of U.S. communities.

The STAR Community Rating System uniquely combines:

  • A framework for sustainability that covers the social, economic and environmental dimensions of community;
  • A rating system that drives continuous improvement and fosters competition; and
  • An online system that gathers, organizes, analyzes, and presents information required to meet sustainability goals.

Download the STAR Community Rating System Version 1.0

The release of the rating system represents a milestone in the national movement to create more livable, sustainable communities for all. STAR’s goals help define local sustainability, and present a vision of how communities can become more healthy, inclusive, and prosperous across seven specific categories. The system’s objectives provide a much-needed vocabulary that local governments and their communities can use to effectively strategize and define their sustainability planning efforts.

“Communities across the country have been waiting to dive in and start using the framework provided by the STAR Community Rating System,” reported Shannon Parry of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and Environment. “We’re looking forward to aligning Santa Monica’s robust sustainability program with STAR and plan to share this great tool with colleagues back
in California.”

The STAR Community Rating System was developed over a multi-year, consensus-based process led by committee members. Technical Advisory Committees comprised of experts from across the country determined scientifically valid, cost-effective ways of evaluating local government
progress. A Steering Committee provided oversight and guidance. The result is a robust and comprehensive system that is flexible enough to serve both large and small towns - and their local leaders - as they begin their journey toward sustainability.

Visit the STAR Communities website today to download the Rating System. The full Technical Guide to the STAR Community Rating System will be available in November 2012. A full national release of all products and services is planned for March 2013.

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