The STAR Community Rating System (STAR) is the nation’s first voluntary, self-reporting framework for evaluating, quantifying and improving the livability and sustainability of U.S. communities. With a strong record for sustainability leadership, Austin has received certification as a 4-STAR Community. Other 4-STAR Communities include Tucson, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Washington, D.C.
What is STAR? STAR is designed to assess a community’s sustainability performance in three broad areas: 1) prosperity and jobs, 2) conservation and the environment, and 3) community health, equity, and cultural vitality.
The STAR rating system further delineates these areas into seven specific sustainability goal categories:
• Built environment – quality, choice, and access to where people live, work and play
• Climate and energy – increased efficiency, reduced impact
• Economy and jobs – quality jobs, shared prosperity
• Education, arts, and community – vibrant, connected, and diverse culture
• Equity and empowerment – inclusion and access for all community members
• Health and safety – strong, resilient and safe
• Natural systems – protect and restore the resources of life
More than 600 specific actions and outcomes are identified within the seven goal areas for evaluation to receive a rating.
Further Background. The City of Austin’s involvement with STAR dates back to 2008. At that time, Austin’s Mayor was part of the Steering Committee that helped develop the organizing structure and issues that STAR would address in evaluating a community’s sustainability progress. The Office of Sustainability continued the City’s involvement with STAR as a Beta Community which involved identifying, developing, and testing sustainability measures for inclusion in the STAR Rating System.
How was Austin’s rating determined? Led by the Office of Sustainability over a 14-month period, more than 160 individuals from City departments and community partner organizations provided detailed documentation to support our application for a STAR rating. The City of Austin’s submittal was evaluated by STAR’s Technical Manager, who is supported by a large Technical Advisory Group comprised of individuals with expertise for each goal category. This third-party evaluation process gives validity to our efforts to self-report Austin’s sustainability performance.