We are watching a renaissance of the American city powered by sustainability. New city buildings are cleaner, more efficient and healthier. Cities are scaling up building retrofit programs, yielding significant energy and water reductions.
Improvements in transportation are better supporting walkability and green neighborhoods. Local food markets are sprouting up all across the country. And by responding to these myriad sustainability challenges, our cities are not only creating better places to live, but driving a clean energy economy, helping to save residents money and creating new green jobs. The U.S. Green Building Council is facilitating the work of cities through the creation of the STAR Community Index, a partnership with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and the Center for American progress. STAR, still in development, relies on the participation of a vast array of federal, state and local governments as well as member organizations and NGOs to develop a benchmarking tool to give these cities a path forward towards a more sustainable future.
Photo via dannotti
STAR identifies the key components of urban sustainability, providing cities a way to measure their own progress in those areas. In doing so, STAR can serve as a planning tool for local governments and their citizens to take steps to become more sustainable while providing a mechanism to assess how successful cities are in their efforts. Rather than continuing to talk about the concept of urban sustainability in inconsistent terms, STAR will anchor the discussion with broad consensus and allow both public officials and their constituents to identify and work towards specific goals that contribute to the overall sustainability of a community.
While STAR will continue to develop and undergo changes in the next year, a draft list of components that STAR will look to measure will be available soon, allowing local governments to incorporate them into future plans. Information about these draft goals and the entire STAR program can be found at Star Community Index. Please take time to review these goals and share them with your local government officials if they are not already aware of this effort. Our nation’s cities are moving towards sustainability and STAR will help lead the way.