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Ann Arbor, MI: Certified 4-STAR Community

Matt Naud, Environmental Coordinator for Ann Arbor, MI shares their STAR story.

The City of Ann Arbor has been a member of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network for 8 years and has followed the growth of STAR. While the idea of developing a uniform set of metrics across cities has great appeal, we struggled for several years to participate knowing we did not have the staffing necessary to do the process justice and no strong leadership internally to make STAR certification a priority. What if we didn’t score as well as Columbus, OH! When a graduate student offered to assist us with STAR certification as part of a Master’s project and we obtained some scholarship funding, we took the opportunity to be certified. It was still a lot of work but we are glad we did it and we can see ways to improve the process the next time.

Sustainability involves a lot of players and organizations outside typical municipal services. We found out we do a lot of things, but they are practices that are not in code or formal documents so did not always get credit. We should be working to formalize some of our practices. For instance, we have not created formal programs around equity to support a lot of points in that area. We did get to talk with a lot of folks in other organizations within the city and across the county that are all using data to measure outcomes, but much of that information had never made it into the city before the STAR certification process.

The City Administrator is creating a new Office of Sustainability and Innovation. Tracking metrics will be a key function of this group and we are exploring how elements of STAR can be integrated into the existing city budget process and how STAR metrics can be better integrated into city boards and commission work. We recently presented the certification results at a Sustainability Forum for the community.

Moving forward, we will be focusing on our equity points. Certification is helping us to more quickly identify metrics for the new office of Sustainability and Innovation. As this office grows, we will be exploring how to build ongoing data collection into parts of the organization and how to bring together key community partners as we look to re-certify.
Learn more about Ann Arbor’s 4-STAR rating.

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