STAR Communities awards 3-STAR Rating to City of Palm Bay
Palm Bay, FL – The City of Palm Bay has received national recognition for its efforts to build a more sustainable and resilient community. Last week, Palm Bay was awarded a 3-STAR Community Rating for sustainability leadership. The City is the first municipality from Florida and 35th in the nation to receive recognition from STAR Communities for its participation in the STAR Community Rating System (STAR), which evaluates the livability and sustainability of U.S. communities.
STAR 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; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education, arts and community; 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.
The City of Palm Bay celebrated its STAR Community Rating on Tuesday, June 16th at the Palm Bay City Council Meeting where Utilities Director Dan Roberts presented Mayor William Capote with a plaque. Members of the City of Palm Bay’s Green Team and other staff members who made significant contributions throughout the yearlong application process were also in attendance. Each team member was presented with a certificate of recognition, thanking them for their dedication to the City of Palm Bay’s sustainable future.
The STAR framework is comprehensive, including everything from how safe residents feel, how successful schools are, and how fast emergency response times are, to things like workforce readiness, housing affordability, and civic engagement. Over 30 partners, led by Environmental Management System Coordinator, DeShon Davis-Patterson, collaborated over the past year to collect data to measure the community’s progress towards national sustainability standards. Palm Bay scored highest in the “Built Environment” and “Health & Safety” categories. Notable achievements within the assessment include:
- Built Environment: Palm Bay has 17.92 acres of public space and parks per 1,000 residents. The City has also increased the mileage of sidewalks by 5.88% over the past 3 years, connecting people with services and promoting active and healthy living. HANDS – Housing and Neighborhood Development Services provides a multitude of housing initiatives and has ongoing programs that assist citizens with down payments, utility payments, and renovation of existing homes within the City limits.
- Health & Safety: The City performed well in the area of Community Health Systems and Safe Communities. The Palm Bay Hospital was appointed a Top Performer in Key Quality Measures by the Joint Commission in 2012, and the local health department is accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board. The community also demonstrated that they were below national thresholds for violent crime.
- Natural Systems: 89% of Palm Bay residents live within a ½ mile of a green infrastructure feature that provides localized cooling, water management, and/or recreation. This is supported by local design criteria requiring tree and shrubbery landscaping and a partnership with the Marine Resources Council to help preserve the Indian River Lagoon.
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). Palm Bay received a score of 222.7, which qualifies them as a 3-STAR Community, recognized for “sustainability leadership”. Only three cities have received a 5-STAR Community rating, the highest achievable. Other 3-STAR communities include communities such as Atlanta, GA; Cleveland, OH; and Fort Collins, CO.
“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 Palm Bay 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.
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.
Contact: Lacey Shaver, Community Engagement Manager
(855) 890-7827 ext. 105