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STAR welcomes and encourages volunteer involvement. The rating system was developed between 2008-2012 using an open, consensus-based process. Technical Advisory Committees comprised of volunteer experts from across the country determined scientifically valid, cost-effective ways of evaluating local government progress with oversight and guidance from a Steering Committee. After the rating system was released in 2012, the eight Technical Advisory Committees were consolidated into a 21-member Technical Advisory Group. In order to maintain the rating system’s credibility, all substantive changes to STAR are approved by the Technical Advisory Group then sent to the Steering Committee for acceptance. View current committee members.

There are three formal opportunities to volunteer with STAR:

  1. Steering Committee
  2. Technical Advisory Group
  3. On-Call Advisors

STAR also partners with academic institutions to perform research on a variety of topics. For more information on volunteer and research opportunities and how to get involved, see below:


The governing body responsible for guiding the development of the STAR Community Rating System. The committee is charged with maintaining the rating system as a leadership tool, preserving its integrity, and evolving STAR using the consensus process in accordance with the mission, guiding principles, and strategic plan of STAR Communities.

The Steering Committee is comprised of representatives of the founding partners, elected officials and executive staff from a diverse group of cities and counties, national associations, universities, federal agencies, and non-profit organizations. At least fifty- percent of its members are local government leaders. The cities and counties serving on the Steering Committee shall represent diversity in size, region, and progress toward sustainability. Local government representatives must be from Participating, Reporting or current Leadership STAR Communities. Other members must be designated STAR Affiliates. Steering Committee members serve for a 3-year term and may be reappointed for one subsequent 3-year term.

For more information, see the STAR Communities Steering Committee Charter.


The purpose of the TAG is to enhance and, where necessary, clarify the STAR Community Rating System. The group maintains and advances the technical aspects of the existing STAR Community Rating System; continuously builds, improves and advances credit intents, requirements and guidance; upholds the technical rigor, fairness and transparency in the STAR Community Rating System development process; and holistically oversees, integrates, manages and envisions the technical aspects of the STAR Community Rating System.

STAR Communities reserves the right to select TAG members based on the following criteria:

  • Has relevant technical experience in one or several STAR Goal Areas – Built Environment, Climate & Energy, Economy & Jobs, Education, Arts & Community, Equity & Empowerment, Health & Safety, and Natural Systems.
  • Has professional experience working with local governments and /or developed an understanding of local government operations and capacity.
  • Has worked with technical data and detailed measurements of at least one STAR evaluation measure.
  • Is able to be an objective arbiter and is not biased by professional obligations.

STAR Communities recruits for the TAG annually in the fall, unless there is a specific vacancy. Candidates must fill out an Application and an Area of Expertise Form to be considered. The selection committee is comprised of STAR Communities staff and Steering Committee members.  STAR strives to maintain a balance of TAG members from across the full spectrum of the Rating System, so some candidates may not be selected due to overwhelming support already available in a particular area. TAG member term is 1 year, however members may serve up to 3 consecutive terms.

For more information, see the STAR Communities Technical Committee Charter.


The STAR Communities’ On-Call Advisors are a collective grouping of technical experts who may assist the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and Steering Committee in their ongoing effort to continuously improve the STAR Community Rating System. These experts help to clarify evaluation measures and methodologies, and provide support to the organization’s technical team that oversees the verification, research, and development processes.

On-Call Advisors are responsible for providing detailed technical knowledge related to a specific STAR objective or evaluation measure. They can expect to be called upon to assist STAR Communities’ technical team during a community’s pursuit of STAR-certification (e.g. the submittal or verification process) and/or during the process of refining the content of the Rating System’s Technical Guide.

Advisors are expected to be available to answer questions either via email or phone call in a timely manner (i.e. within one business week). Additionally, members may be asked to review documents and address focused research questions. Though total time could vary by expertise, On-Call Advisors will likely be asked to contribute no more than 1 hour per month.

STAR holds recruitment drives for On-Call Advisors in the fall and spring, however, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis to fill gaps in our objective coverage. Candidates should fill out the STAR On-Call Advisor Application and an Objective Selection Form indicating their expertise, and return to info@starcommunities.org.


STAR Communities is constantly evaluating the technical aspects of the Rating System, as well as monitoring the current state of sustainability in order to ensure the effectiveness of our evaluation measures. We welcome collaboration with academic institutions to help further our internal research and development, and occasionally do presentations for universities. In the past, STAR has conducted semester-long consultancies with universities such as Columbia University and the George Washington University.

Additionally, staff from current communities in our network have led courses on sustainability metrics in local government, in exchange for interns or student support in the STAR data collection process. Consider reaching out directly to staff in your local government if this is of interest.

For more information, please contact us at info@starcommunities.org to discuss.