Evanston is the second city in the nation to be awarded a 4-STAR Community Rating for national excellence in sustainability.
The City completed a year-long, quantitative assessment to achieve the rating from STAR Communities, earning 488 points across seven categories measuring economic, environmental and social factors.
Evanston joins Tacoma, Washington as the only other city in the nation to earn four out of five STARs using the rating system. Broward County, Florida also achieved a 4-STAR Community Rating. Other communities participating in the program include Portland, Oregon; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Santa Monica, California.
What is STAR?
Evanston is one of the first 30 communities nationwide to participate in the (STAR) Communities program, the first comprehensive, self-reporting system on sustainability. STAR stands for "Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating" Communities. Sustainable cities are defined as those who contribute to a healthy environment, support a strong economy, and continually improve the well-being of the community. The release of the STAR Rating System represents a milestone in the national movement to create more livable, sustainable communities for all. And Evanston is honored to be one of the first communities to tackle the challenge of completing the self-assessment reporting tool and receive a rating.
STAR fosters competition and drives ongoing development; it awards points not only for statistics, but also for programs that engage citizens and provide services. Definitive, transparent city ordinances and good planning are crucial, as are supportive infrastructure and effective implementation. This holistic view of community (and how best to evaluate it) fits with Evanston’s long-standing leadership in sustainability and its mission of creating the most livable city in America.
The Process for Measuring Sustainability
The City’s Office of Sustainability has led the multi-faceted process of tracking and measuring Evanston’s sustainability efforts, which now culminates in an overall rating. Local leaders can use the STAR certification to assess how sustainable they are, set targets for moving ahead, and measure progress along the way. The final report helps identify successes and areas that need improvement.
The city was provided a checklist of measurements, actionable items, and desired outcomes over seven goal areas. Overall, this collaborative and massive data collection effort illuminates how Evanston is doing - organizing, analyzing, and presenting information needed to meet and improve upon sustainability goals. The categories include:
- Built Environment: Achieve livability, choice, and access for all where people live, work, and play.
- Climate and Energy: Reduce climate impacts through adaptation and mitigation efforts and increase resource efficiency.
- Economy and Jobs: Empower vibrant, educated, connected, and diverse communities.
- Education, Arts, and Community: Create equitably shared prosperity and access to quality jobs.
- Equity and Empowerment: Ensure equity, inclusion, and access to opportunity for all citizens.
- Health and Safety: Strengthen communities to be healthy, resilient and safe places for residents and businesses.
- Natural Systems: Protect and restore the natural resource base upon which life depends.
Additionally, credit can be earned for Innovation and Process: exemplary performance, innovation, best practices and processes, and regional priority.
After a citywide effort gathering information from community partners and organizations, and combining local, county, and national data, the application was submitted to the STAR website at the end of January.
The rating lasts for three years, so the City must continually maintain and improve upon plans and existing work in these areas of environmental, economic, and social sustainability. STAR certification helps shape the future of our community by identifying gaps, prioritizing issues, and providing clear steps toward a better Evanston.