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Columbia Gets a “Quick Start” to Achieving STAR Certification

Columbia, SC – Over 50 city staff and community members from Columbia, SC gathered at the EdVenture Children’s Museum earlier this month to participate in a community sustainability workshop held by the Public Works Department for the City of Columbia. The workshop was run by STAR Communities and Global Green USA, national nonprofit organizations with broad experience in urban sustainability, and was sponsored by Siemens Center of Competence (CoC) Cities Americas.

In January 2017, the City of Columbia was accepted into the STAR Communities QuickSTARt program, which provides extensive support and training as a community pursues their first sustainability baseline assessment under the STAR Community Rating System, the nation’s leading framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability. The program was developed in partnership with Global Green USA and involves a two-day workshop for community stakeholders to accelerate data collection for certification. STAR helps communities evaluate their strengths and weaknesses across seven areas: the built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education, arts and community; health and safety; and natural systems.

By the end of the workshop, participants had identified enough local sustainability actions from across the community to qualify as a Certified 3-STAR Community. Over the coming months, city staff will be following up on data sources and innovative ideas generated during the workshop and finalizing the application for certification. STAR certification requires that information be gathered from across the community, and involves the assistance of city and county staff members, community partners, state agencies, local and regional governments, and private sector employers.

“STAR certification provides a clear, data-driven approach to assessing communities’ sustainability efforts,” said Lacey Shaver, Community Engagement Manager for STAR Communities. “The QuickSTARt program is designed to facilitate the process of getting organized and achieving certification so that Columbia can move quickly through the assessment phase and into identifying gaps and prioritizing investment.”

Columbia aims to be the first certified STAR Community in South Carolina. Currently, 60 U.S. cities and counties are certified under the STAR Community Rating System. Achieving STAR certification is part of Mayor Stephen Benjamin’s vision to make Columbia the most talented, educated, and entrepreneurial city in America.

“The support we received through the QuickSTARt workshop will accelerate our organizational process toward achieving STAR certification and help to transform the way our community advances social, economic, and environmental progress,” said Mayor Benjamin. “It will help us to understand the key challenges facing Columbia as we strive for economic growth and long-term prosperity.”

The STAR QuickSTARt Program and workshop was sponsored by Siemens CoC Cities Americas, which works in more than 70 cities worldwide to help them understand which intelligent technologies can not only improve their systems, but make them more intuitive, safer, cleaner, and more efficient. Siemens employees brought their experience to bear during the workshop, supporting the city and STAR in understanding how intelligent technology and software across energy, buildings, transportation, and industry can ensure economic success and longevity.

“Siemens recognizes that its success is tied to the success of the cities where it works,” said Julia Thayne, Siemens’ Director of Urban Development Americas. “We were proud to team with STAR Communities and Global Green to support the City of Columbia in achieving STAR certification, and we commend Columbia, and any city that embarks on STAR certification, for tracking its efforts across economic, environmental, and social indicators of sustainability.”

 STAR Communities works to evaluate, improve, and certify sustainable communitiesThe nonprofit 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.


Download press release.

Contact: Lacey Shaver, Community Engagement Manager, STAR Communities

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