STAR Community Rating System

Version 2.0 | October 2016

STAR : Sustainability Tools for Assessing & Rating communities

STAR Communities is a Washington, DC based nonprofit organization, now
partnered with USGBC , that works to evaluate, improve and certify sustainable
communities. They administer the STAR Community Rating System (STAR), the
nation’s leading framework and certification program for local sustainability. Cities
and counties use STAR to measure their progress across social, economic and
environmental performance areas.

STAR’s Goal Areas and Objectives

  • 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 community members
  • 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
  • An eighth category, Innovation & Process, supports the evolution of sustainability practice by recognizing best practices and processes, exemplary performance, local innovation, and good governance.

Each of the rating system’s 7 goal areas is supported by 6-7 Objectives. Objectives are the clear and desired achievement intended to move the community toward the broader sustainability goal. Below are the system’s 45 objectives, organized by goal area.

STAR Framework of Sustainability Goals & Objectives

STAR objectives are achieved through attainment of two types of evaluation measures:
community level outcomes and local actions. Outcomes are measurable condition-level
indicators that depict a community’s progress toward a preferred state or condition within
the STAR objective it supports. Outcomes are represented as trend lines,
targets, or thresholds in the rating system.

The menu-based system allows local governments and their local partners to select the
objectives they feel are most relevant to their communities.

Objectives are met by two types of actions


  • Education and Outreach
  • Plan Development
  • Policy and Code Adjustment
  • Partnerships and Collaboration
  • Practice Improvements
  • Inventory, Assessment, or Survey


  • Enforcement and Incentives
  • Programs and Services Preparatory
  • Facilities and Infrastructure Improvements


Each of the seven goal areas has 100 available points in six or seven objectives of 10 or 20 points. There are 50 points available in a Innovation and Process objective as well.

All points are verified by STAR Communities.

There are three levels of certification

3 Star Community – 250-449 points
4 Star Community – 450-649 points
5 Star Community –650-750 points

The process usually takes a year and there are post certification services from Star
Communities to help communities continually improve and recertify