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City of Steamboat Springs project leaders say the STAR ratings report showing the local community’s efforts, progress and culture in sustainability compared to other U.S. cities will be ready in late September.
The City is half way through the collection and input of data points as part of the STAR Community Rating System national certification program, or Sustainability Tools for Assessing & Rating Communities. Two part-time City interns, made possible through a matching fund grant from the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, have been working this summer collecting information in seven evaluation categories. Those major areas for review include: built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education, arts and community; equity and empowerment; health and safety; and natural systems.
“It’s a rigorous benchmarking framework and a very thorough and comprehensive view of community sustainability,” said project supervisor Winnie Delliquardri, assistant to the City Manager. “When we are complete, we will present the results to City Council. The City Green Team also will use the results to develop and recommend sustainability goals to council.”
Steamboat Springs resident and intern Liz Ross said she is “really proud of Steamboat so far” in the evaluation.
“It has been affirming my positive feeling about Steamboat. Most of the people I’ve talked to have been helpful, understanding and support the project,” Ross said.
Steamboat Springs is part of the STAR Spring 2015 leadership class of eight communities participating in the benchmarking process with cities ranging from Boise, Idaho, to San Antonio, Texas. STAR Communities is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., that was created through the ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, U.S. Green Building Council, Center for American Progress and the National League of Cities. So far almost 100 U.S. and Canadian communities have participated in the benchmarking and ratings. In Colorado, Fort Collins completed the benchmarking process and earned a three-star rating out of five stars that means the City is recognized for sustainability leadership, and the town of Nederland currently is going through the process. The STAR Communities website explains, “The rating system’s evaluation measures collectively define community-scale sustainability and present a vision of how communities can become more healthy, inclusive and prosperous across seven goal areas….STAR’s comprehensive approach to economic, social and environmental sustainability has proved to be an inclusive and transformative way for cities and counties to measure performance and make improvements to their communities.”
Local leaders will be able to use the benchmarking process as a baseline audit to move forward on areas needing improvement in sustainability.
“The City Green Team couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming results of the STAR Communities baseline study,” said team chairman Bob Keenan, senior planner. “If we don’t know where we’ve been it’s hard to know where we are going, so these results should be very informative in taking community sustainability to the next level.”
The STAR program includes a follow-up benchmarking process in three years to see how local efforts are progressing.