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The City of Evanston has been invited to participate in the STAR Community Pilot Program, which will track its sustainability efforts. The program taps nearly thirty leadership cities and counties from across North America in a year-long testing evaluation of the STAR Community Rating System. Evanston was the only community in Illinois selected for the pilot program.
Released October 1, 2012, the STAR Community Rating System (STAR: Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating) is the nation’s first voluntary, self-reporting framework for evaluating, quantifying and improving the livability and sustainability of U.S. communities. STAR uniquely combines: a framework for sustainability that includes social, economic and environmental qualities of a community; a rating system that drives continuous improvement and fosters competition; and an online system that gathers, organizes, analyzes and presents information needed to meet sustainability goals.
The STAR Community Rating System was developed through a multi-year, consensus-based process led by committee members. Technical advisory committees of experts from across the country determined scientifically valid, cost-effective ways of evaluating local government progress. A steering committee provided oversight and guidance. The result is a robust and comprehensive system that is flexible enough to serve both large and small towns – and their local leaders – as they begin their journey toward sustainability. To learn more about the pilot program, visit www.starcommunities.org.
Local community leaders will use the STAR Community Rating System to assess how sustainable they already are, set goals for moving ahead and measure progress along the way. STAR Pilot Communities will be the first to receive a rating based on their responses using a technical guide, online reporting tool and associated products and services that are designed to help local communities establish and measure their own sustainability.
The City of Evanston has been working on sustainability efforts as born out in its adoption of the Evanston Climate Action Plan (ECAP), which was developed in 2008 in a collaborative community process with more than 150 volunteers and city staff participating. This plan contains approximately 220 different strategies to help Evanston reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 13% by the year 2012.
“Since adopting the ECAP in 2008, our efforts have helped Evanston to become the ‘Green City’ it has set out to be, but we still have a lot more to accomplish. We have been recognized for our efforts by state and national organizations, earning Evanston several prestigious awards including the U.S. Conference of Mayors 2011 Climate Protection Award and the 2011 Governor’s Sustainability Award,” explained Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl.
“We can all be proud of the example Evanston is setting for other cities in the Midwest and around the country. Efforts we have made in implementing the ECAP demonstrate our community’s dedication and leadership around environmental issues. I am confident that we will continue to serve as a model for sustainability and I am delighted we have been selected as a STAR Community participating in this pilot program,” added Mayor Tisdahl.
Since the ECAP plan was developed, the city has worked to implement many of the strategies in the plan, including bringing multiple car sharing programs to Evanston (both Zip Car and I-Go have spaces in Evanston), distributing CFLs to residents to help reduce electricity consumption, as well as creating a Green Building Ordinance to promote energy-efficient buildings for both municipal and private projects. The recently released 2011 ECAP Update Report highlights exciting new programs created in 2011 and the progress made on the goals set out by the plan. The ECAP report can be found online at www.cityofevanston.org/sustainability.