STAR Community Index: LEED Guidelines for Entire Cities

STARCommunityIndex.jpg Much as LEED™ has transformed the building industry, the people behind the STAR Community Index hope to transform the way local governments set priorities and implement policies and practices to make their cities more sustainable.
The STAR Community Index isn’t the first to try and rank or rate the greenness of cities. SustainLane for example has already put out three rankings on the sustainability of cities, including creating a network for government officials to exchange best practices.
However, as SustainLane’s methodology has sometimes been criticized, The STAR Community Index is taking a slightly different approach. GreenBiz writes, “The Star Community Index is the only thus far that intends to use the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design as a working model for development.”

According to its website, The STAR Community Index is a national, consensus-based framework for gauging the sustainability and livability of U.S. communities. STAR will be launched by 2010, and is currently being developed through a partnership between ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and the Center for American Progress (CAP).
Program Director Lynne Barker said, during a briefing at the USGBC’s Greenbuild conference, “We want to create a common agenda through a national process.”
As Jetson Green writes, some of the aims of STAR are to offer a globally recognized green standard system for local governments, increase accountability in data and actions, create a roadmap to track and achieve environmental goals, enable peer-to-peer learning among communities, and engage public support and participation.
Taking a page out of the LEED rubric, STAR is soliciting community, volunteer participation to establish the framework of indicators and metrics by which cities will be rated. The volunteer based technical committees will focus on:
* Natural Systems (ecosystems, habitat, water, storm water, air quality, and resource conservation)
* Planning & Design (land use, transportation and mobility, and parks, open space and recreation)
* Energy & Climate (energy, emissions, renewable energy, and green building)
* Economic Development (clean technologies, green jobs, local commerce, tourism, and local food)
* Employment and Workforce Training (green job training, workforce wages, and youth skills)
* Education, Arts, and Community (education excellence, arts, civic engagement, and social equity)
* Children, Health, and Safety (community health, access to health care, and public safety)
* Affordability and Human Dignity (affordable, workforce housing, poverty, and human services).
The people behind STAR say it will become the definitive means by which local governments measure and “certify” their achievements.

Readers: What do you think are the most important elements, listed above or what was left out, to help make a city more sustainable?

Ashwin is an Associate Editor of Triple Pundit. He recently returned to the Bay Area after living in Argentina, where he wholeheartedly missed the Pacific Ocean. He is a freelance editor and media and marketing consultant.After a brief stint working in the wine world, when not staring blankly at a computer screen, you'll find him working on Anand Confections or at 826 Valencia, where he has been a long-time volunteer.