In March 2018, Evanston was recertified as a 4-STAR Community in the STAR Community Rating System (STAR). Evanston is one of only 28 communities in the nation to earn four out of five STARs under the rating system. Other communities participating in the program include Boise, Idaho; West Palm Beach, Florida; and Tuscan, Arizona. In line with its tradition of leadership and its goal of being the Most Livable City, Evanston was recognized as the first community to be recertified under STAR Version 2.0.
In 2014, Evanston was one of the first 30 communities nationwide to participate in the STAR Communities program, the first comprehensive, self-reporting system on sustainability. At that time, Evanston was one of only three communities in the nation to earn four out of five STARs. STAR certification is valid for four years.
In 2016, STAR released Version 2.0 of the Rating System to incorporate current methodologies and strengthen performance thresholds. After a year-long assessment for recertification and a citywide effort gathering information from community partners and organizations, and combining local, county, and national data, the application for recertification was submitted to the STAR website at the end of February 2018.
To achieve its 4-STAR Community Rating for national excellence in sustainability, City staff leveraged strong relationships with dozens of community groups to gather necessary data. The City earned 511 points across seven categories measuring economic, environmental and social factors.
What is STAR?
STAR helps communities evaluate their strengths and weaknesses across seven areas: the built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education, arts and community; health and safety; and natural systems. Communities receive credit for improving community conditions as well as implementing local actions that move the needle on change. STAR Communities supports cities, towns and counties as they benchmark progress, and a robust third-party verification process ensures accountability.
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 Process for Measuring Sustainability
The City 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.
The rating lasts for four 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.