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Navigate the Rating System

The STAR framework integrates economic, environmental, and social aspects of sustainability and provides communities with a menu-based system to customize their approach based on local conditions and priorities. Communities can pursue the most important or relevant objectives, addressing regional variability and differing priorities along the way.

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The rating system is organized by goals, objectives, and evaluation measures; this design is intended to align with local government processes and standard practice. The structure features a set of components that reflect public sector mechanisms that are proven effective in advancing change. Terms are those commonly used by local governments and their community partners to communicate strategic objectives and desired outcomes.

Within each goal area is a series of objectives aimed at achieving community-level aspirations. Objectives are measured in two ways: through attainment of community level outcomes and/or completion of local actions that are essential to reaching the outcomes. These evaluation measures provide the avenue for communities to achieve credit in the rating system.

Below are terms and definitions associated with the STAR framework.

Goal Desired state or condition that a jurisdiction intends to achieve
Objective A clear, desired achievement intended to move the community toward the broader goal
Purpose Statement to clarify relevance, to provide context, and communicate the desired outcome(s)
Evaluation Measure Qualitative or quantitative, using relative or absolute metrics
Community Level Outcome Measurable, condition-level indicators that depict a community’s progress toward a preferred state or condition as suggested by the STAR objective
Local Action Range of decisions and investments that a community can make, or the activities that they can engage in, that are essential to achieving the desired outcome(s)

STAR’S Goal Areas and Objectives

  • Built Environment: Achieve livability, choice, and access for all where people live, work, and play
  • Climate & Energy: Reduce climate impacts through adaptation and mitigation efforts and increase resource efficiency
  • Economy & Jobs: Create equitably shared prosperity and access to quality jobs
  • Education, Arts & Community: Empower vibrant, educated, connected, and diverse communities
  • Equity & Empowerment: Ensure equity, inclusion, and access to opportunity for all community members
  • Health & 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

An eighth category, Innovation & Process, supports the evolution of sustainability practice by recognizing best practices and processes, exemplary performance, local innovation, and good governance. Each of the rating system’s 7 goal areas is supported by 6-7 Objectives. Objectives are the clear and desired achievement intended to move the community toward the broader sustainability goal. Below are the system’s 45 objectives, organized by goal area.

Evaluation Measures

STAR objectives are achieved through attainment of two types of evaluation measures: community level outcomes and local actions. Outcomes are measurable condition-level indicators that depict a community’s progress toward a preferred state or condition within the STAR objective it supports. Outcomes are represented as trend lines, targets, or thresholds in the rating system.

Local actions describe the range of decisions and investments that a local government or community can make, or the activities that they can engage in, that are essential to achieving desired outcomes. Local actions in the rating system focus on the key interventions that move the needle towards STAR’s identified outcomes.

Since many public, private, and nonprofit organizations within the community contribute towards advancing sustainability goals, the rating system recognizes these efforts, not only those of the local government. The rating system awards credit for local actions performed by community actors other than the applicant local government, provided that the applicant demonstrates that the activities have had a significant, positive impact on progress towards achieving the desired outcome(s) for the community as a whole.

There are nine defined action types in the rating system. Preparatory actions are foundational steps that a community should take first to assess the community’s needs and trends, identify and execute policy and regulatory changes, and strengthen partnerships and collaborations in order to effectively deploy resources and investments.

Implementation actions are the programs and services, enforcement and incentive mechanisms, and infrastructure investments a community makes in order to efficiently and equitably move the needle towards the desired outcomes.