Birmingham, AL — Today, Birmingham, AL was awarded a 3-STAR Community Rating for sustainability leadership. Birmingham is the first community from Alabama to achieve certification under the national STAR Community Rating System (STAR). The STAR Community Rating System is a robust sustainability rating system for cities, towns, and counties, which helps communities evaluate themselves across seven areas related to sustainability, such as built environment, economy and jobs, health and safety, and natural systems. Other 3-STAR communities include communities such as Atlanta, GA; Des Moines, IA; and Fayetteville, AR.
STAR Communities’ executive director Hilari Varnadore presented the community’s 3-STAR Rating to Mayor William A. Bell, Sr. at his Sustainability Progress Update address on Friday, April 10. In addition to receiving the recognition from STAR, Mayor Bell shared a number of other sustainability successes recently achieved such as Birmingham being chosen as one of 12 cities in the nation to be an Eco-District Incubator.
“Birmingham joined the STAR Community Leadership Program to establish a benchmark of our sustainability performance. Through the STAR assessment process, we learned about where we are succeeding and where we can improve,” said Mayor Bell.
Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements across seven goal areas that are used to determine their rating. There are three STAR certification levels: 3-STAR Community (200-399 points); 4-STAR Community (400-599 points); and 5-STAR (600+ points). Birmingham received a score of 212.8, which qualifies them as a 3-STAR Community, recognized for “sustainability leadership.” Only two cities have received a 5-STAR Community rating, the highest achievable.
“Sustainable cities provide a healthy environment, support a strong economy, and continually improve the well-being of the community,” said Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director of STAR Communities. “The data and information that Birmingham gathered through the process should help them continue to make improvements that benefit the whole community.” Nearly 100 communities are actively using the STAR Community Rating System, with more than 60 engaged in the certification process.
Partners from community agencies, corporations, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham worked with city staff and consultants over the past year to gather all of the data required for certification. Notable achievements within the assessment include:
- Health and Safety: Birmingham is working on community safety through several innovative programs. Over the past 3 years, the Dannon Project has provide support and assistance to over 300 previously incarcerated persons to give them and their families second chances for achieving life success. The Straight Talk About Risks curriculum educates students about the risks of handling guns with the goal of reducing childhood gun trauma and fatalities.
- Education, Arts, and Community: Birmingham has robust historic preservation efforts, including 9 historic preservation districts. The City of Birmingham’s Planning, Engineering & Permits Department consults neighborhood association officers and volunteers to review historic preservation guidelines and make recommendations.
- Climate & Energy: Birmingham has demonstrated an 127.85% increase in alternative fuel vehicles since 2011.
- Economy and Jobs: Birmingham is improving local workforce mobility through increased post-secondary educational attainment, as demonstrated by higher numbers of residents achieving associates, bachelors and graduate degrees. The Urban Youth Empowerment Program Now supports these efforts by providing mentoring, leadership training, on-the-job training, and GED classes for urban youth.
“Birmingham now has a very comprehensive understanding of its sustainability footprint,” said Natalie Kelly, President of environmental strategy and media agency Sustain, and consultant to the City of Birmingham. “The City will use this information to help develop a sustainability plan and provide a framework for a sustainability commission. The STAR rating demonstrates Birmingham’s commitment to progress and responsible stewardship of resources, and we plan to keep the momentum going with new initiatives and goals to better our community and the environment.”
To learn more about the STAR Community Rating System, visit the STAR Communities website at www.STARcommunities.org. To learn more about sustainability in Birmingham, visit: www.mygreenbirmingham.com or view their STAR Report: https://reporting.starcommunities.org/communities/80-birmingham-alabama
STAR Communities works to evaluate, improve, and certify sustainable communities. The organization administers the STAR Community Rating System, the nation’s first framework and certification program for local sustainability. For more information, visit www.STARcommunities.org. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @STARCommunities.