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Leading Indicators

The Leading STAR Community Indicators are a subset of twenty-one metrics based on outcome measures from the STAR Community Rating System and were developed in partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN). They are organized into an online platform where U.S. cities and counties can report annually on key sustainability metrics. Communities of all sizes and experience use the Leading Indicators to benchmark annual performance and compare their progress with other participating communities.

Each of the twenty-one indicators was selected as being universally important to community sustainability efforts and meaningful to report annually. Collectively, the Leading Indicators are designed to:

  • Provide communities with a simple way to get started with sustainability indicators;
  • Offer guidance on metrics that are commonly important and obtainable;
  • Enable benchmarking and annual reporting across many communities; and
  • Leverage local government consensus to improve access to data in the United States.

To narrow down the 110 outcomes in the Rating System, STAR Communities and USDN convened a consensus-based process of member community representatives from both organizations. The selected indicators were intentionally balanced across the Rating System’s seven goal areas.

The Leading Indicators are organized on a publicly accessible online dashboard that provides multiple views of the data, allowing users to focus on a particular goal area, filter to comparisons by community size or region, analyze trends over time, and delve into a specific community’s full set of indicators. Each participating community also has their own webpage to convey their sustainability story and add descriptions about programs or other activities to their reported indicators.

Over 45 communities from across the U.S. piloted the Leading Indicators program and provided valuable feedback on the metrics, data collection methodology, and dashboard display over the course of 2016. Leading Indicators pilot communities included:

  • Abington Township, PA
  • Albany, NY
  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Austin, TX
  • Avondale, AZ
  • Blacksburg, VA
  • Bloomington, IN
  • Brookings, SD
  • Burlington, VT
  • Cary, NC
  • Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Columbia, MO
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dearborn, MI
  • Denver, CO
  • Dubuque, IA
  • Evanston, IL
  • Fairfax, VA
  • Fayetteville, AR
  • Holland, MI
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Houston, TX
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Iowa City, IA
  • Johnson County, IA
  • Kansas City, MO
  • King County, WA
  • Lakewood, CO
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Louisville, KY
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Northampton, MA
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Palm Bay, FL
  • Peoria, AZ
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Plano, TX
  • Reading, PA
  • Sarasota, FL
  • Springfield, MO
  • St. Peters, MO
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Washington, DC