STAR Communities to Begin Leadership STAR Community Program

September 3, 2013

By Lacey Shaver

STAR Communities is pleased to announce the opportunity for U.S. cities and counties to measure progress towards community sustainability through participation in the 2014 Leadership STAR Community Program. With extensive support from STAR Communities staff, the selected Leadership STAR Communities will spend a year working through the STAR Community Rating System together with the goal of becoming certified sustainable communities.

The STAR Community Rating System is the nation’s first voluntary, self-reporting framework for evaluating, quantifying, and improving the sustainability of U.S. communities. STAR’s guiding principles, goals, and objectives collectively define community-scale sustainability and present a vision of how communities can become more healthy, inclusive, and prosperous across seven specific categories encompassing the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainability. The system’s goals and objectives provide a much-needed vocabulary that local governments and their communities can use to more effectively strategize and define their sustainability planning efforts.

The National League of Cities (NLC) is a founding partner of the STAR Community Rating System, along with the U.S. Green Building Council, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, and the Center for American Progress. NLC and STAR Communities are both dedicated to improving America's cities and mutually reinforce each other's missions. NLC played an integral part in the development and governance of STAR Communities and the rating system and serves on STAR's Executive Committee.  STAR Communities is an active supporter of NLC's Sustainable Communities Institute and serves on its inaugural Steering Committee.

How Does the Leadership STAR Community Program Benefit Cities?

Communities achieving a certified STAR Community Rating will be recognized as national leaders in sustainability and will gain a deep understanding of their community’s strengths and needs to support current and future generations. Through the one-year Leadership Program, communities will receive tools to measure progress towards a common set of sustainability metrics; access to STAR’s online platform to track the community’s sustainability data; opportunities to learn best practice from other communities; and assistance in sustainability messaging and storytelling.

“After working with over 30 diverse cities and counties from the US and Canada over the past year, we’re confident that this approach – of connecting a cohort of communities in an yearlong engagement – provides unique opportunities for leaders to share stories and innovations, get the support they need from staff and ultimately drive one another forward, faster toward attainment of a certified STAR Community Rating,” noted Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director, STAR Communities.

In partnership with the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN), STAR Communities will offer financial assistance to a limited number of communities that demonstrate need and the ability to leverage local philanthropic support for their participation in the Leadership STAR Community Program. The full program application and guidelines for financial assistance are available here. For more information, STAR Communities is holding a conference call and briefing on Friday, September 6, 2013 at 1:00pm ET.

Lacey Shaver is the Outreach & Program Coordinator for STAR Communities.