Earlier this month, the City of Reading was chosen to mentor the fall 2015 Leadership Sustainability Tools for Assessing & Rating Community Program, along with Raleigh, N.C., and lead seven cities and counties as those communities strive to achieve STAR certification.
Sustainability Tools for Assessing & Rating Communities is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works to evaluate, improve and certify sustainable communities. It administers the STAR Community Rating System, the nation’s first framework and certification program for local sustainability.
In May, Reading became the first municipality in the state to achieve certification under the national STAR Community Rating System, receiving a score of 234.1, which qualifies the city as a 3-STAR Community, recognized for national excellence in sustainability.
“It’s an honor to be chosen as mentors to help other communities examine their practices to improve their livability,” Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer said in a press release. “Not only are we able to help other communities, but our STAR certification also positions us for future funding and demonstrates a clear outcome-based approach.”
On Oct. 6, 7, Brian Kelly, executive director of ReDesign Reading – a community development organization that designs and implements economic development initiatives – met with representatives from all seven communities, who gathered in Washington, D.C. for a two-day training event with STAR staff and mentors from Raleigh.
STAR staff walked the new communities through the STAR Community Rating System framework and evaluation measures and led them through hands-on exercises to begin the process of data collection and develop an action plan for the year.
Kelly shared best practices and tips for project management, working with partners and implementation planning.
“Increasingly, communities around the country want to track and measure the impact of their efforts to make their cities livable,” Kelly said. “STAR is a living process. We are taking our lessons learned to improve local sustainability efforts, joining a national coalition of cities who are committed to improving local quality of life.”
The seven cities and counties Reading and Raleigh will mentor are Columbia, Mo.; Durango, Colo.; Kansas City, Mo.; the city of Lawrence and Douglas County, Kansas; Marathon, Fla; and St. Petersburg, Fla.
“Sustainable cities provide a healthy environment, support a strong economy and continually improve the well-being of the community,” said Hilari Varnadore, executive director of STAR Communities