STAR Communities Rating System

Progress towards sustainable consumption can be measured using existing metrics such as those in The STAR Communities Ratings System (STAR), an evaluation guide for cities interested in advancing sustainability outcomes. It was built by and for cities and local communities across North America as a certification program to recognize sustainable communities. STAR is an acronym for Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating communities.

STAR outlines a set of characteristics of a sustainable community:

  • Thinks and acts systemically
  • Instills resiliency
  • Fosters innovation
  • Redefines progress
  • Lives within means
  • Cultivates collaboration
  • Ensures equity
  • Embraces diversity
  • Inspires leadership
  • Continuously improves

The Rating System then provides a set of objectives across seven goal areas to support assessment, strategy, implementation and management by local governments toward sustainability. The accompanying metrics are useful for selecting and evaluating sustainable consumption initiatives as well.

Some examples of relevant metrics that correspond to the toolkit sectors (food, housing, climate action, consumer goods and business and economy) as well as three additional key sustainability areas (living within ecological means, social justice, and well-being) are outlined below:

Sustainable consumption sector areas

Food

  • Health and Safety - Food Access and Nutrition - Enforcement and Incentives - Provide incentives for healthful retail food outlets to locate in underserved areas or mobile vendors that only sell fresh food For added benefits, these incentives could be paired with incentives for infill, redevelopment, and revitalization described in BE-5: Infill & Redevelopment, Action 8. If so, consider applying for credit under more than one Objective.

Housing

  • Built Environment - Infill and Redevelopment - Enforcement and Incentives - Provide financial incentives to encourage infill and redevelopment

Climate action planning

  • Climate and Energy – Waste Minimization – Total Solid Waste – Demonstrate incremental progress towards achieving a 100% reduction by 2050 in total solid waste generated within the jurisdiction that is disposed of via landfill, waste-to-energy facility, or incinerator.
  • Climate and Energy – Resource Efficient Buildings – Energy Efficiency – Demonstrate incremental progress towards achieving an 80% reduction by 2050 in the energy use intensity of the community’s building stock.

Consumer Goods

  • Climate and Energy - Industrial Sector / Resource Efficiency - Enforcement and Incentives - Create financial incentives or industry-focused challenges to encourage companies to reduce the intensity of their resource consumption
  • Economy and Jobs – Local Economy - Enforcement and Incentives - Provide incentives for businesses that use materials produced within the region and sell their products within the region

Business and Economy

  • Economy & Jobs – Business Retention & Development – Businesses – Demonstrate an increased number of business establishments in the municipality over time
  • Economy & Jobs – Local Economy – Community Self-Reliance – Demonstrate that 50% of import sectors have increasing location quotients over the past 3 years
  • Economy & Jobs – Quality Jobs & Living Wages – Education and Outreach – Support a Best Places to Work campaign to recognize local businesses that support employees and their families

Other key sustainable consumption elements

Living within ecological means

  • Climate and Energy – Waste Minimization – Total Solid Waste – Demonstrate incremental progress towards achieving a 100% reduction by 2050 in total solid waste generated within the jurisdiction that is disposed of via landfill, waste-to-energy facility, or incinerator.
  • Climate and Energy – Resource Efficient Buildings – Energy Efficiency – Demonstrate incremental progress towards achieving an 80% reduction by 2050 in the energy use intensity of the community’s building stock.
  • Natural Systems – Green Infrastructure – Facility and Infrastructure Improvements – Increase the percentage of funding invested in green infrastructure.

Social equity

  • Education, Arts & Empowerment – Social & Cultural Diversity – Diverse Community Representation – Demonstrate that appointments to local advisory boards and commissions reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the community
  • Equity & Empowerment – Civil and Human Rights – Resolution of Complaints – Demonstrate that all civil and human rights complaints in the past 3 years have been investigated and violations redressed in a timely manner
  • Equity & Empowerment – Environmental Justice – Policy and Code Adjustment – Incorporate environmental justice criteria and priorities into zoning, land use planning, permitting policies, and development of new projects

Social connection and wellbeing

  • Education, Arts and Community – Community Cohesion – Neighbourhood Cohesion – Demonstrate an increased percentage of neighborhoods reporting positive levels of neighbourhood cohesion through community surveys