Columbus, OH –The City of Columbus announced its formal certification as a 4-STAR community in the STAR Community Rating SystemTM, making it the only 4-STAR community in Ohio and one of fifteen 4-STAR communities in the country. There are a total of 44 communities that have achieved certification from STAR Communities to date.
STAR is the nation’s leading framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing social, economic and environmental performance measures. STAR helps communities evaluate their strengths and weaknesses across seven areas:
- the built environment,
- climate and energy,
- economy and jobs,
- education, arts, and community,
- equity and empowerment,
- health and safety, and
- natural systems.
For instance, communities get credit for reductions in energy use or increased transportation access. STAR Communities provides support as localities benchmark progress, and a third-party review ensures accountability.
“This recognition demonstrates Columbus’ commitment to building a better environment for future generations,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “I am proud of our city and look forward continuing to work with our partners to lead the nation when it comes to sustainability programming.”
In March 2015, Columbus joined STAR Communities’ Leadership Program, a one-year program that offers support to cities and counties as they gather data, report and certify. This effort enabled the city to gather a baseline assessment of Columbus’ sustainability progress as well as compare best practices with other communities nationwide.
“The STAR certification provides an independent assessment that highlights the City of Columbus’ hard work to help protect and improve the environment,” said Columbus City Councilmember Elizabeth Brown, chair of the Environment Committee. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on city council, Mayor Ginther’s office, and our Office of Sustainability to continue our progress.”
Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements 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). Columbus received its final score of 405.8 points and the Certified 4-STAR Community Rating for national excellence in sustainability. Some highlights from Columbus’ application include:
- Built Environment: The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department’s 2014 master plan aims to improve amenities and increase access to the city’s many parks—Columbus has over 14 acres of parkland per 1,000 citizens.
- Climate and Energy: In 2015, Columbus adopted The Columbus Green Community Plan: Green Memo III, which included a strong recommendation of reducing green house gas emissions community wide by 20% in 5 years. From 2013 to 2014, the community reduced emissions by over 14%.
- Economy and Jobs: Columbus’ economy continues to improve after the recession, demonstrated by both a decrease in unemployment and an increase in the number of businesses created in recent years.
- Education, Arts, and Community: The city has an abundance of events and services provided by community centers, including health and nutrition classes, Pride Festival, and “Columbus Alive!” concerts. Over 99% of Columbus residents live within 1 mile of these community venues.
- Health and Safety: The city demonstrated excellent emergency services by meeting all thresholds in the “Emergency Prevention & Response” objective, for example, the Fire Department holds an ISO Rating of a 3 and is accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI).
Information and data was gathered for the certification application throughout 2015 with the assistance of dozens of city staff members, interns from The Ohio State University, community partners, state agencies, local and regional governments, and private sector employers.
“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 Columbus gathered through the process will them continue to make improvements that benefit the whole community.” Hundreds of communities are actively using the STAR Community Rating System around the country, with more than 70 engaged in the certification process.
To learn more about the STAR Community Rating System, visit the STAR Communities website at www.STARcommunities.org.
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.
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