STAR Community Rating System
STAR stands for Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating. It is the nation’s first voluntary, self-reporting system for measuring progress on sustainable community conditions, created by and for local governments. The STAR program includes the following components...
- Framework for diagnosing the social, economic and environmental attributes of communities
- Measurement rubric for outcomes and actions across 7 goal areas that include 44 objectives
- Rating system that drives continuous improvement and fosters a race to the top
STAR as "Living Textbook" for a Community Curriculum
Sustainability Ambassadors uses STAR as a framework for developing sustainability profiles for our own communities and for identifying primary source curriculum materials such as community sustainability indicators, comp plans, and climate action plans to integrate in the core curriculum.
At the same time, we are educating our local government, educational, civic and business partners on the value of adopting the STAR framework to drive professional learning and collective impact. We believe that shared measurement systems are critical for demonstrating real progress across generations, jurisdictions, and community sectors. The STAR Community Rating System provides a standardized approach.
Educating for Sustainability
There is one crucial objective missing from the STAR Community Rating System; Educating for Sustainability. If a community commits to organize its planning and policies around the principles of sustainability, wouldn’t it make sense to have an objective on the STAR rating system that could track the degree to which we are educating our children using the sample principles?
Such an objective would read something like this “The K-12 public education system produces graduates who understand the interdependent nature of ecological systems, economic systems, and social equity and have the knowledge, skills and dispositions to advance a sustainable future.
Our Team has developed a new objective on Educating for Sustainability. We submitted it to the STAR National Steering Committee for possible adoption nation-wide. It’s an exciting idea. And an important question.
Read the proposal: STAR Objective - Educating for Sustainability
How do you define a "sustainable community?"
The path to sustainability is different for every community – but the common elements are a healthy environment, a strong economy and the well-being of the people living in the community. When sustainability areas are addressed in tandem with each other, they have a powerful, positive effect on the quality of life and future of a community. By overlapping work in these areas, efficiencies emerge and better results are achieved. It’s an approach that solves local problems while being innovative about progress.
A sustainable community is one that…
THINKS AND ACTS SYSTEMICALLY
Sustainable communities take a systems perspective and recognize that people, nature, and the economy are all affected by their actions. Local governments in these communities consider the broader implications before embarking on specific projects, and they look for ways to accomplish multiple goals rather than default to short-term, piecemeal efforts.
Sustainable communities possess a strong capacity to respond to and bounce back from adversity. Local governments in these communities prepare for and help residents and institutions prepare for disruptions and respond to them swiftly, creatively and effectively.
Sustainable communities capture opportunities and respond to challenges. Local governments in these communities cultivate a spirit of proactive problem solving to provide access to futures otherwise unobtainable and to enable the risk-taking inherent in innovation.
Sustainable communities measure progress by improvements in the health and wellbeing of their people, environment, and economy. Instead of focusing on GDP (throughput of dollars), local governments in these communities use a broad set of indicators.
LIVES WITHIN MEANS
Sustainable communities steward natural resources so that future generations have as many opportunities available to them as we do today. They also recognize that resources exist for the benefit of life forms other than humans. Local governments in these communities assess resources, track impacts, and take corrective action when needed so that they meet the needs of today without depleting what they leave for future generations.
Sustainable communities engage all facets of society in working together for the benefit of the whole. Local governments in these communities bring government representatives, community members, and organizations together and create a culture of collaboration that encourages innovation, sharing of resources, and jointly shared accountability for results.
Sustainable communities allocate resources and opportunities fairly so that all people who do the full range of jobs that a community needs can thrive in it. Local governments in these communities actively eliminate barriers to full participation in community life and work to correct past injustices.
Sustainable communities feature a tapestry of peoples, cultures, and economies underpinned by a richly functioning natural environment. Local governments in these communities celebrate and foster ethnic, cultural, economic, and biological diversity and encourage multiple approaches to accomplish a goal.
Sustainable communities provide leadership through action and results. Local governments in these communities recognize their opportunity to effect change by backing visionary policies with practices that serve as an example for citizens and businesses to emulate.
Sustainable communities engage in continuous discovery, rediscovery, and invention as they learn more about the impacts of their actions. Local governments in these communities track both performance and outcomes, are alert for unintended consequences, and modify strategies based on observed results.