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Evanston, IL First U.S. City to Recertify in STAR Version 2.0

City maintains certified 4-STAR Community Rating

Evanston, IL – STAR Communities announced today that the city of Evanston has maintained its certified 4-STAR Community Rating through recertification in the STAR Community Rating System (STAR). The city first certified in 2014 and is the first to recertify under version 2.0 of the nation’s leading framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability.

“In order for Evanston to be the most livable community, we must continue to evolve by advancing equitable, sustainable and innovative practices,” said Evanston Mayor Stephen Hagerty, who announced the City’s recertification in his State of the City Address on March 9, 2018. “For our City to be the first community to achieve recertification as a STAR Community under the latest version is a great accomplishment. Evanston is committed to remaining a leader in climate action and resilience.”

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. Communities receive credit for improving community conditions as well as implementing local actions that move the needle on change. STAR Communities supports cities, towns and counties as they benchmark progress, and a robust third-party verification process ensures accountability.

Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements across the seven goal areas, which are used to determine their rating. There are three STAR certification levels: 3-STAR Community (250-449 points); 4-STAR Community (450-649 points); or 5-STAR (650+ points). Evanston received a score of 511.8, which qualifies them as a 4-STAR Community, recognized for national excellence.

Several initiatives stood out in Evanston’s application for recertification:

  • Built Environment: Evanston uses data to update and strengthen transformational policies, such as the Complete and Green Streets Policy, updated in 2017. The policy bolstered design consideration for older adults and people with disabilities, developed an annual reporting structure, and established transportation demand management requirements for selected private developments. This kind of strong policy ensures residents of Evanston have a walkable community, which is reflected in the numbers: 99% of residents live within 1/2-mile of a park and over 35% of residents take transit or walk or bike to work.
  • Climate & Energy: Since 2005, Evanston has decreased community wide GHG emissions by 17.6% and local government GHG emissions by 66%. Several actions drive this progress, including formal commitments by Mayors Tisdahl and Hagerty to transition Evanston to renewable energy and participation in the Global Covenant of Mayors. In 2017, the City signed the Sierra Club’s pledge to 100% Clean Energy.
  • Education, Arts & Community: Data on residents’ perceptions of inclusion is important to help inform policy and investments. In 2017 the Equity and Empowerment survey was completed to better understand residents’ views and inform future decision-making. This kind of proactive action is important in creating a livable and inclusive community.
  • Equity & Empowerment: The Equity & Empowerment goal area is one in which communities often do not score highly; Evanston received 48/100 points. In 2017, the City took action to demonstrate the City’s commitment to these gaps by hiring an Equity & Empowerment coordinator and establishing the Equity & Empowerment Commission. Both entities will work to leverage diversity and actively practice inclusion.

“The city of Evanston has embedded sustainability into the organization’s DNA. By committing to recertification, the city is tracking progress over time then prioritizing investment based on real results. They are making data-driven decisions and taking a triple bottom line approach to governance,” says STAR Communities Executive Director, Hilari Varnadore. “Communities around the country should look to them for guidance on how to operate efficiently and effectively, while meeting social, economic and environmental goals.”

Today, more than 70 US communities have certified in STAR and hundreds are using the rating system’s framework to set goals, measure progress and improve their communities. Other STAR-certified communities in the region include Blue Island, IL; Park Forest, IL; Ann Arbor, MI; and Indianapolis, IN.

To view Evanston’s full report, go to http://www.starcommunities.org/certification/certified-star-communities/evanston-illinois/

To view the full list of communities involved, go to http://www.starcommunities.org/certification/certified-star-communities/.


About STAR Communities

STAR Communities advances a national framework for sustainable communities through the delivery of standards and tools built by and for local governments and the communities they serve. The organization administers the STAR Community Rating System, the nation’s first framework and certification program for local sustainability. For more information, visit http://www.STARcommunities.org. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @STARCommunities.

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