In November 2018, the U.S. Green Building Council integrated the STAR Community Rating System into the LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities programs after a long period of collaboration. Cities must organize, analyze, and present information in six sustainability categories. The categories include:
- Natural Systems and Ecology: Protect and restore the natural resource base upon which life depends.
- Transportation and Land Use: Encourage mixed-use and compact development along with the utilization of public transit and non-polluting vehicles.
- Water Efficiency: Manage stormwater and wastewater more efficiently and increase access to safe drinking water for all communities.
- Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Reduce climate impacts through adaptation and mitigation efforts and increase resource efficiency.
- Materials and Resources: Prevent as many materials and resources as possible from entering the waste stream.
- Quality of Life: Create a community where inclusivity, equity, living standards, justice, and engagement are high priorities.
Cities receive points for actions taken in each category. Points can be received in two additional categories Innovation and Regional Priority.
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 March 2018, Evanston was recertified as a 4-STAR Community in the STAR Community Rating System (STAR). Evanston was 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 included 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 November 2018, the STAR Community Rating System became a part of the LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities Programs.