Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating (STAR)
Louisville, KY is a Certified 4-STAR Community – Recognized for National Excellence!
LSC is proud to partner to bring Louisville its first ever third party certified community sustainability rating through STAR Communities, providing the public with detailed reporting on progress towards goals.
For point details, visit Louisville’s page directly on the STAR Communities website!
The STAR Community Rating System is the nation’s first comprehensive framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing economic, environmental and social performance measures. Over 90 communities across the United States have participated, with certified communities receiving a 3-STAR, 4-STAR, or 5-STAR rating. Certified communities use this common framework and standard metrics to track and compare progress. In 2014 Louisville became a 4-STAR certified community “Recognized for National Excellence”.
New in 2017 The Leading STAR Indicators are organized into an online platform where U.S. cities and counties can annually report key sustainability metrics. Compare Louisville to other certified communities with this new comparison tool.
The next certification cycle is 2018-2019.
What is the STAR Community Program?
STAR Communities is a nonprofit organization that works to evaluate, improve, and certify sustainable communities. Such as our organization the LSC. They administer the STAR Community Rating System (STAR), the nation’s first framework and certification program for local sustainability. Cities and counties use STAR to measure their progress across social, economic and environmental performance areas. To learn more about STAR Communities, the STAR Rating System, and detailed rating information for Louisville and other communities, visit the STAR website.
Louisville STAR Communities Story
Louisville, KY has achieved a 4-STAR Certification! For the first time, Louisville, KY has achieved a sustainability rating for comparison to communities across the nation. We now have a common language and framework to use as we continue to identify strengths and weaknesses and how to improve. Our detailed STAR results provide information about the activities taking place in our community and the achievement of metrics-based outcomes. The STAR rating system is three tiered, with communities achieving either a 3-, 4-, or 5-STAR rating. With a total of 404 points, Louisville, KY just made the 400-600 points needed to achieve the rating of 4-STAR. Louisville scored high in the goal areas of Natural Systems, Health & Safety, and Economy & Jobs. Built Environment, Equity & Empowerment, and Education, Arts & Community were in the middle. We scored the lowest in Climate & Energy. To review point details, visit Louisville’s page on the STAR Communities website.
Our STAR Communities Process
Through a partnership with the Louisville Sustainability Council (LSC) and Louisville Metro’s Office of Sustainability, Louisville was selected as a 2014 STAR Leadership Community to be mentored through the non-profit, Sustainability Tools for Assessing & Rating (STAR) Communities. The LSC provided funding for Louisville Metro’s participation, as well as staff and intern time to manage data collection. The STAR certification process is robust and comprehensive. It is comprised of 800 credits, organized under 44 categories (or “Objectives”), and 7 goal areas. LSC and the Office of Sustainability requested and obtained data from hundreds of stakeholders across the community, totaling approximately 1,000 hours of work throughout 2014. The third-party verification process from STAR took place from January-April 2015.
The Louisville Sustainability Council aims to provide the community with meaningful information to make informed choices that will make our community more sustainable. Contact Louisville Sustainability Council with any questions about our STAR results.
Our STAR Communities 2014 Results
STAR’s Goal Areas
- Built Environment: Achieve livability. choice, and access for all where people live, work, and play
- Climate & Energy: Reduce climate impacts through adaptation and mitigation efforts and increase resource efficiency
- Economy & jobs: Create equitably shared prosperity and access to quality jobs
- Education, Arts & Community: Empower vibrant, educated, connected, and diverse communities
- Equity & Empowerment: Ensure equity. inclusion, and access to opportunity for all citizens
- Health & Safety: Strengthen communities to be healthy, resilient and safe places for residents and businesses
- Natural Systems: Protect and restore the natural resource base upon which life depends
Pretty Good, What does this Mean?
How do we know whether our activities are making a community scale difference? STAR credits are divided between “Outcomes”, and “Actions”. Outcomes have been achieved when best practice metrics have been established and demonstrate numeric success. Points are achieved for Actions when we are able to demonstrate the existence of best practice policies, codes, programs, partnerships, and other activities. The chart below demonstrates the breakdown of approved credits. 68% of Louisville’s 4-STAR points were achieved from Actions, or activities. Just 32% of points are from the achievement of measurable Outcomes. Louisville has implemented many actions towards the goal of becoming a more sustainable community, but we have room to improve our measurable successes.
As a collective impact organization, the Louisville Sustainability Council aims to facilitate the achievement of Louisville’s sustainability goals by providing backbone support as our community measures, communicates, and aligns activities towards achieving measurable outcomes. We will use our STAR results to assist in aligning activities, while leveraging the best practices and metrics provided in STAR.
We Can Use Our STAR Results as a Tool
STAR is a tool for:
- Using a common language & framework
- Identifying best practice metrics, goals, and activities
- Assessing measurable outcomes
- Identifying strengths and gaps
- Benchmarking our progress
- Comparing our efforts to other certified communities
STAR is not:
- STAR is not a replacement for a local sustainability plan.
- STAR should not be confused with Air Pollution Control District’s Strategic Toxic Air Reduction (STAR) program, or the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainable Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS)
- STAR is not a catalogue of every activity that has taken place in a community. Information included in STAR must meet verification requirements, and some seemingly relevant activities may not have been included in certification. For example, a program may have been excluded if it had not been active in the previous three years, or if key data were not available.
- STAR does not evaluate the effectiveness of programs, services, or codes individually, but rather uses the achievement of Outcomes to measure effectiveness.
We Can Explore Strengths, Weaknesses, and Gaps
We will continue to analyze and communicate the findings from our STAR ratings, including:
- Climate & Energy: Louisville demonstrated a 2.7% reduction in total solid waste generated within the jurisdiction since 2010. Waste reduction efforts were achieved through actions such as a Solid Waste Management Plan, the Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em Louisville yard waste education program, and targeted recycling programs like the Habitat ReStore and Louisville Waste Reduction Center.
- Economy & Jobs: Louisville did particularly well in the area of Local Economy, demonstrating a 5.99% increase in total funds deposited in locally-owned and operated financial institutions over the past 3 years. The City also demonstrated increases in total sales and employment in he targeted industries of Advanced Manufacturing, Lifelong Wellness and Aging Care, and Food and Beverage, fueled by the comprehensive regional economic development analysis and planning in the Advantage Louisville strategy.
- Health & Safety: Louisville is a top performer in the state in terms of community health indicators, such as mortality, tobacco use, and diet and exercise. The City also demonstrated an increase over the past 3 years in the ability of low-income families to access low-cost, healthful food. Groups like the Food in Neighborhoods Community Coalition (FIN), which is a broad coalition of individuals and group representatives striving to build a just, healthy, and sustainable food system, support the increase in available foods.
- Natural Systems: Louisville has conserved 6,149 acres of Priority Natural Systems since 1995, with over 9,973 acres of total connected natural systems in 2014. This success is in part due to partnerships such as the Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy (LOPC) and projects such as the Glade Cress Habitat Restoration Project and the Caperton Swamp Restoration Project.
- The LSC will tell Louisville’s STAR story to a broad audience to showcase where are we doing well, what needs improvement, and best practices in goals, outcome metrics, and actions.
- The LSC hopes to build a Data Dashboard to provide the hundreds of information points, descriptions, links, and spreadsheets provided to STAR for scoring, as well as more information on Outcomes & Actions, and how member organizations are involved in relevant activities.
- The LSC will work to integrate the STAR framework and findings with the LSC Action Teams, the city’s sustainability plan (Sustain Louisville), & other city efforts.
- The LSC will work under the collective impact model to align community activities to achieve measurable Outcomes.