Welcome Guest


STAR Communities holds regular education and training programs both online and at events across the country. See our Events page for upcoming events and webinars, or view past public webinars below.


Learn more about STAR Communities and how it can help your community be more transparent, accountable, and sustainable. Join staff from STAR Communities as they explain the various programs available to local governments, including the Basic Access package, Full Access subscription, and Leading STAR Community Indicators program.

The webinar also featured leaders from two recently certified STAR cities sharing their communities’ experiences using STAR and their plans for using the STAR certification further advance their sustainability efforts.

This webinar was recorded on 2/8/17 and moderated by Aaron Lande, Operations & Member Relations Manager at STAR Communities. Panelists included:

  • Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director, STAR Communities
  • Mayor Jeri Muoio, Mayor, West Palm Beach, FL
  • Geoff Fruin, City Manager, Iowa City, IA

Watch the webinar and download the slide deck


Almost 60 communities across the U.S. have been certified using the STAR Community Rating System, which evaluates environmental, economic, and social sustainability. But certification is only the first step towards creating more sustainable communities. In this webinar, staff from Dubuque, IA; Evanston, IL; and Iowa City, IA share how they have leveraged their STAR certification results and begun the transition to implementable results.

The panel discussion gives audience members a deeper understanding of the use and benefit of sustainability certification, the relationship between sustainability performance metrics and community planning and policy making, and ways to engage community leaders and residents in creating a more sustainable community.

This webinar was recorded on 11/1/16 and moderated by Aaron Lande, Operations & Member Relations Manager at STAR Communities. Panelists included:

  • Cori Burbach, Sustainable Community Coordinator, City of Dubuque, IA
  • Catherine Hurley, Sustainability Manager, City of Evanston, IL
  • Brenda Nations, Sustainability Coordinator, City of Iowa City, IA

Watch the webinar or download the slide deck


For the past year, STAR Communities staff, committee members, member communities, and volunteers have engaged in the first major update of the rating system and its accompanying technical guide. The culmination of this effort is Version 2.0 of the STAR Community Rating System and Technical Guide, which feature new and updated metrics based on feedback from content experts and local government users.

Version 2.0 of the STAR Community Rating System will be available for download from the STAR Communities website beginning Tuesday, October 11th. On Thursday, October 13th, STAR Communities staff will host a webinar to provide a deeper dive into the new version and go over some of the most notable changes made to the rating system.

This webinar was recorded on 10/13/16 and was moderated by Aaron Lande, Operations & Member Relations Manager at STAR Communities. Panelists included:

  • Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director of STAR Communities
  • Krist Wamstad-Evans, Technical Director of STAR Communities
  • Alex Helling, Technical Specialist of STAR Communities

Watch the webinar or download the slide deck.


Water: it seems like there is always too much or too little! Hear how two communities are adapting their infrastructure to changing water needs. In Monroe County, FL, staff are addressing both current and future challenges presented by sea level rise. Meanwhile in Southern Nevada, communities are figuring out how to promote water conservation and meet the future demand of an increasing population in the desert.

This webinar was recorded on 3/21/16 and was moderated by David Abell, Program Coordinator at STAR Communities. Panelists included:

  • Daniel Kreeger, Association of Climate Change Officers
  • Rhonda Haag, Monroe County, FL
  • Marco Velotta, Las Vegas, NV

Watch the webinar or download the slide deck.


In the past 2 years, 72 communities have participated or are currently participating in the Leadership STAR Community Program, resulting in over 40 STAR certifications to date. Pursuing STAR certification can help you engage other departments in sustainability; integrate planning, budgeting, and performance management efforts; enhance partnerships with community stakeholders; and benchmark your community’s economic, social, and environmental progress with other cities and counties around the country.

We know that completing the data collection for STAR certification can be daunting. That is why we designed the Leadership STAR Community Program – to support cities and counties as they perform their first sustainability baseline assessment under the STAR Community Rating System®.

This webinar was recorded on 12/4/15 and was moderated by David Abell, Program Coordinator at STAR Communities. Panelists included:

  • Aaron Lande, Member Relations Manager, STAR Communities
  • Lacey Shaver, Community Engagement Manager, STAR Communities
  • Daniel Fazekas, Planner II, Community Development Department, City of Henderson, NV

Watch the webinar or download the slide deck.


Environmental justice is a topic of increasing importance for most communities. This webinar helps communities better understand the issues they face locally and how they can work to address them. The EPA Office of Environmental Justice presented their new EJScreen tool, which allows communities to better analyze overburdened areas. There were also presentations from two Certified STAR communities who are working on environmental justice issues.

This webinar was recorded on 10/15/15 and was moderated by Kristi Wamstad-Evans, Technical Director at STAR Communities. Panelists included:

  • Tai Lung, Program Analyst, EPA Office of Environmental Justice
  • Lisa Lin, Sustainability Manager, City of Houston, TX
  • Alice Kennedy, Sustainability Coordinator, City of Baltimore, MD

Watch the webinar or download the slide deck.


In 2014, only two communities, Seattle, WA and Northampton, MA, achieved the highest level of certification available through STAR Communities. In this webinar, staff from the two cities shared what they did to achieve their 5-STAR Community Rating as well as what they’ve got planned next to continue to advance local sustainability.

This webinar was approved for 1.0 AICP CM credit. It was recorded on 1/22/15 and was moderated by Neelima Shah, Program Officer at the Bullitt Foundation. Panelists included:

  • Michelle Caulfield, Environmental Sustainability Program Manager, City of Seattle, WA
  • Wayne Feiden, Director of Planning and Sustainability, City of Northampton, MA
  • Lacey Shaver, Outreach Coordinator, STAR Communities

Watch the webinar or download the slide deck.


Communities are increasingly looking to integrate sustainability principles and metrics into their comprehensive plans. In this webinar, staff from the American Planning Association (APA) presented on their Sustainable Community Division and new research and standards for incorporating sustainability into comprehensive plans. Then staff from Plano, TX and Phoenix, AZ presented highlights from their draft general plans and discussed how they incorporated performance metrics based on the STAR Community Rating System and best practices from the APA’s Comprehensive Plan Standards for Sustaining Places.

This webinar was co-sponsored by APA Sustainable Communities Division and is approved for 1.5 AICP CM credit. It was recorded on 1/7/15 and was moderated by Jennifer Koch from the APA Sustainable Communities Division. Panelists included:

  • Robert Kerns, Division Chair, APA Sustainable Communities Division
  • David Rouse, Managing Director of Research and Advisory Services, APA
  • Aaron Lande, Education Coordinator, STAR Communities
  • Lori Schwarz, Comprehensive Planning Manager, City of Plano, TX
  • Rosanne Albright, Brownfields Program Manager, City of Phoenix, AZ
  • Joshua Bednarek, Principal Planner, City of Phoenix, AZ

Watch the webinar or download the slide deck.


Sustainability requires everyone to understand their role in affecting the community’s health and well-being. In this webinar, staff from Broward County, FL; Cleveland, OH; and Evanston, IL discussed how they are engaging the public, community leaders, and government staff in creating a culture of sustainability and livability to build on local achievements, address challenges, and launch new collaborative projects. They also discussed how they are using the Rating System and the assessments that were done to receive STAR certification in this outreach.

Recorded on 12/2/14, the program was moderated by Andrea Fox, Director of the ICMA Center for Sustainable Communities. Panelists included:

  • Jill Horwitz – Natural Resource Specialist, Broward County, FL
  • Catherine Hurley – Sustainable Programs Coordinator, Evanston, IL
  • Cathi Lehn, Ph.D. – Sustainable Cleveland Coodinator, Cleveland, OH
  • Jenita McGowan – Chief of Sustainability, Cleveland, OH

Watch the webinar or download the slide deck.


Communities today know that they must address the challenge of climate change by creating environments that conserve natural resources, foster economic diversity, and address the needs of their citizens. Through their work with the STAR Community Rating System and CDP, communities are gaining the tools necessary to set local goals, take action, and measure and disclose progress.

Recorded on 8/1/14, this webinar features representatives from STAR Communities, CDP, and local government as they talk about the benefits of disclosure and transparency in local climate efforts, overlaps between the two programs, and engage in a panel discussion  with staff from two cities that are currently working with both programs. Panelists include:

  • Katie Walsh, Manager, North American Cities, CDP
  • Lisa Lin, Sustainability Manager, Office of the Mayor, City of Houston
  • Matthew Gray, Director, Office of Sustainability, City of Cleveland
  • Moderated by Aaron Lande, Education Coordinator, STAR Communities

Watch the webinar or download the slide deck.

Where Health Meets Sustainability

From air quality to climate change to violence prevention, local government planners and public health professionals share the same goal of improving the quality of life for all people, now and in the future. Yet they often talk past one another or fail to leverage each other’s resources and strengths even as they advocate the same strategies.

Recorded on 7/18/14, this webinar explores how the STAR Community Rating System is helping sustainability and health professionals collaborate at the local level to advance health outcomes and community wellness. Presenters include:

  • John Balbus, Senior Advisor for Public Health, National Institutes of Health
  • Vickie Boothe, Lead, Population Health Metrics Team, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
  • Eric Faisst, Public Health Director, Madison County, NY
  • Evonda Thomas-Smith, Health Department Director and Catherine Hurley, Sustainable Programs Director, City of Evanston, IL
  • Moderated by Andrea Peet, STAR Communities

Watch the webinar or download the slide deck.

Analyzing Equity in Services & Access

King County, WA and Futurewise are using the methodology in the STAR Community Rating System’s Equitable Services & Access Objective as the basis for engaging community partners and advancing progress on equity.

Recorded on 5/15/14, this webinar looks at how the County is using spatial data to measure and map the status and trends in how foundational community assets are distributed across the landscape, and to determine how the access and proximity to these conditions varies based on the income level and racial composition of the neighborhoods. Panelists include:

  • Hilary Franz, Executive Director, Futurewise
  • Richard Gelb, Performance Management and Equity/Social Justice Lead, King County Natural Resources and Parks
  • Moderated by Lacey Shaver, Outreach Coordinator, STAR Communities

To watch the webinar, click HERE.

To read King County’s report on their work, click HERE .

The Impact of Sustainability on Municipal Bond Ratings & Investment

In today’s tight fiscal climate, local governments need to know how their efforts in sustainability can generate economic returns and attract outside investment. As the financial industry becomes increasingly interested in sustainability metrics, learn how to position your community to reap the benefits.

Recorded on 4/25/14, this webinar discusses the municipal bond rating market, how local efforts in sustainability and resilience factor into investment decisions, and how the STAR Community Rating System can help communities tell their story. Panelist include:

  • Naomi G. Richman, Managing Director, Public Finance Group at Moody’s
  • Robert Fernandez, Vice President, Research at Breckinridge Capital Advisors
  • Melody Park, Director, Office of Sustainability for the City of Indianapolis, IN
  • Wayne Feiden, Director, Office of Planning and Sustainability for the City of Northampton, MA
  • Randall Solomon, Co-Director, Sustainable Jersey
  • Moderated by Aaron Lande, Education Coordinator, STAR Communities

To watch the webinar, click HERE.

Achieving Compact and Complete Communities

Communities across the country struggle to implement compact, human-scaled walkable centers and neighborhoods that connect to transit, offer diverse uses and services, and provide housing options for families of all income levels.

Recorded on 3/21/14, this webinar introduces a framework for achieving compact and complete communities using methodology from the STAR Community Rating System. Hear how Indianapolis, IN; Davenport, IA and Washington, DC mapped out compact and complete centers in their communities using STAR to create a baseline assessment of the mix of uses, transit availability, density, and walkability. Panelists include:

  • Trey Akers, Planner, U.S. Green Building Council
  • Dan Guilbeault, Policy Analyst, District of Columbia’s Department of the Environment
  • Roy DeWitt, Neighborhood Services Specialist in the Community Planning & Economic Development Department for the City of Davenport, IA
  • Andrea Lytle Peet, Senior Program Manager, STAR Communities

To watch the webinar, click HERE.

Tacoma’s Path to Certification

Recorded on 12/12/13, this webinar features Kristin Lynett, Sustainability Manager for the City of Tacoma, as she describes Tacoma’s efforts to become the first certified STAR community in North America. After participating in a yearlong pilot program, Tacoma received a 4-STAR Community Rating in November 2013.

Kristin talks about why Tacoma enrolled in STAR and what their goals were, how working with the Rating System helped improve coordination between government agencies and their non-government partners and helped improve messaging of the City’s sustainability efforts to elected officials and residents, what Tacoma learned from the process, and next steps for the City.

Kristin’s presentation is preceded by a short overview of the STAR Communities Rating System to provide context.

To watch the webinar, click HERE.