City Recognized for National Sustainability Leadership
St. Petersburg, FL – During St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s State of the City Address on Saturday, January 14, he announced that the City has been formally certified in the STAR Community Rating SystemTM (STAR). The City earned a Certified 3-STAR Community Rating and has been nationally recognized for sustainability leadership. St. Petersburg is the 6th community in Florida and 58th nationwide to achieve certification from STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that evaluates and certifies sustainable communities. Several Florida cities and counties are using the STAR rating system to support local sustainability efforts, including five others that have been certified: Broward County, Monroe County, Lee County, Palm Bay, and West Palm Beach.
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; 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 robust third-party verification process ensures accountability.
“St. Petersburg citizens take great pride in the natural and built environments, arts & culture, and neighborhood engagement throughout the community. We are proud that STAR Communities has verified the city as a 3-STAR national leader in sustainability. We look forward to becoming a 5-Star community within a couple of years because of the improvements we have recently made and the progress that we are seeing today” said Mayor Kriseman.
Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements, which then are used to determine their rating. Under Version 1.2, there are three STAR certification levels: 3-STAR (200-399 points), 4-STAR (400-599 points), and 5-STAR (600+ points). St. Petersburg received a final score of 381.7 points, qualifying for the Certified 3-STAR Community Rating for sustainability leadership. Some highlights from the city’s application include:
- Built Environment: St. Petersburg’s robust park system was a key component to a strong score in this goal area. The park system provides 24.6 acres per 1,000 residents. In addition, 72% of households are within a ½ mile walk to a public park and 99% of residents live within 3 miles of an offroad trail.
- Climate & Energy: Since 2014, the City has reduced energy use by 12.33% in energy intense infrastructure such as water facilities, streetlights, and water delivery. The City has also demonstrated a 13% reduction in total solid waste generated over the past 10 years.
- Education, Arts & Community: Almost 100% of St. Petersburg residents attend a live performing arts event annually, and 54% attend an art museum at least once a year. 83% of residents live within 1 miles of a community venue that is open to the public and provides community events, and high school graduation rates have improved by 4%.
- Health & Safety: 80% of adults in St. Petersburg reported leisure time physical activity during the reporting period. In addition, 3 hospitals in the county were recognized as top performers by the Joint Commission, and the St. Petersburg Fire Department received a Class 1 ISO Rating for Superior Fire Protection (the highest available).
Information and data was gathered for the certification application with the assistance of community partners including Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay Watch, St. Petersburg Sustainability Council, Chart 411, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and the Greenhouse, Suncoast Sierra Club, USFSP, USF Patel College of Global Sustainability, 2020 Task Force, and many more.
“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 St. Petersburg gathered through the process will help 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 80 engaged in the certification process. To learn more about sustainability in St. Petersburg, click here.