On October 26, Kristi Wamstad-Evans, STAR’s Technical Director, co-facilitated a workshop at the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) Annual Meeting on the Leading STAR Community Indicators project. This workshop presented the culmination of an eight-month Phase 1 effort to select and refine 21 indicators from STAR’s 108 Outcome measures that could be reported annually by communities via a web-based dashboard.
The Leading STAR Community Indicators project is not a substitute for pursuing a certified STAR Community Rating; rather it is a complimentary program that provides a platform for communities reporting in between recertifications or those seeking a less rigorous starting point for performance management. It will also elevate the sharing and comparing of data between participating communities using common, defined methodologies.
STAR Communities worked with a group of 15 USDN members to select indicators that were relatively easy to gather and also meaningful for annual reporting. A factor in the selection of the indicators was a balanced distribution across the seven goal areas of the STAR Community Framework. The indicators will not be verified, but the methodologies will be publicized and any discrepancy in the reported values may be flagged.
There are two different types of indicators: Required and Flexible. Required indicators, such as Employment and Graduation Rates, are drawn from national or state data sets that are generally available to all jurisdictions in the United States. Flexible indicators, such as Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Total Solid Waste, are typically developed from data collected by the jurisdiction and require a substantive work effort on the part of the municipality. Communities must report whether or not they track the flexible indicators (i.e. Yes, No) and, if yes, then they will submit their data and any supporting documentation.
Phase 1 of the project included defining the indicators, developing a methodology guide based on STAR’s outcomes, piloting the data collection process with about 10 communities, and design of the web-based data entry component. Phase 2 will include the design of the public-facing dashboard for displaying the indicators and recruitment of 100 Vanguard community participants. The Community Dashboard portion of the website will include a narrative space for each indicator that will be managed by the municipality. In this space, communities may describe actions or limitations contributing to the indicator reported. STAR Communities plans to publicly launch the website in the Summer of 2016.