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STAR Framework

The STAR Community Rating System is built on a framework of sustainability goals, objectives and evaluation measures. Local leaders can set goals and measure progress across sustainability themes using the evaluation measures included in the Rating System. See below for details on the structure of the framework, or download the free version of the rating system.


The Rating System is divided into 7 thematic sustainability goal areas.

Goal Area Purpose
Built Environment Quality, Choice & Access Where We Live, Work & Play
Climate & Energy Increase Efficiency, Reduce Impact
Economy & Jobs Quality Jobs, Shared Prosperity
Education, Arts & Community Vibrant, Connected & Diverse Culture
Equity & Empowerment Inclusion & Access for All Community Members
Health & Safety Strong, Resilient & Safe
Natural Systems Protect & Restore the Resources of Life


Within each of the above sustainability Goals, there are between 6-7 Objectives. These 45 objectives are the core areas that contain evaluation measures and metrics. The table below depicts all of the STAR Objectives, plus the bonus Innovation & Process credit area.


Each of the Objectives above contains two types of evaluation measures in the STAR Community Rating System: Community Level Outcomes and Local Actions. The criteria used by technical advisors to develop the measures can be found below.

Community Level Outcomes

Community Level Outcomes are measurable, condition-level indicators that show community progress on a STAR Community Rating System Objective. Examples include reductions in energy use or increased transportation access.

Local Actions

Local Actions are the things you do to move toward the Community Level Outcomes – the range of decisions, investments, programs, plans, and codes that a local community puts in place. Actions focus on interventions that move the needle toward desired Outcomes, and can be done by both the local government and other community groups and partners.

Criteria for Evaluation Measures
Relevant: Provide direct feedback on the outcomes of local implementation.
Feasible: Leverage use of credible, commonly collected data for cost effective reporting that is flexible enough to be implemented in various local contexts.
Timely: Capture actions and outcomes that are currently relevant, while looking forward to the future.
Useful: Provide significant value to help cities and counties make decisions and address local priorities.
Systemic: Draw attention to the preferred future, while offering a metric that measures true progress toward that achievement goal; and, where possible, will satisfy performance reporting for multiple goals to highlight the integrated nature of sustainability.
Reliable: Provide a consistent reflection of achievement or performance across communities regardless of community characteristics, facilitating comparisons between communities.
Valid: Represent the concepts and underlying phenomena that are embodied in the STAR Objective accurately.
Adapted from “Indicators and Information Systems for Sustainable Development: A Report to the Balaton Group” by Donella Meadows, 1998

To see all of the evaluation measures, please download the free Rating System. To learn more about how to put the measures in place and track your progress through metrics, methodologies, and case studies, please consider purchasing the Technical Guide.