Broward County is one of only 32 communities in the U.S. and Canada to participate in a yearlong program to test a new national rating system that measures a local government’s environment, economic and community efforts to achieve sustainability. The Natural Resources Planning and Management Division is leading the STAR Community Rating (Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating) initiative, part of a national framework that ultimately answers the question: “How do we stack up against other communities in our quest for sustainability?”

“We are gathering information from entities throughout the County to apply for our own rating,” explained Dr. Nancy Gassman, Natural Resources Administrator, who is leading the initiative. To earn the STAR Rating, a community must achieve a minimum of 200 points determined from 518 evaluation measures and local government outcomes across a broad range of sustainability areas, including education, equity, climate and energy, water quality, public health, natural systems, housing and transportation. “Innovation and process improvement in emerging areas of sustainability will also be recognized,” Gassman said.

The STAR program was developed by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)-Local Governments for Sustainability, the U.S. Green Building Council, the National League of Cities, the Center for American Progress and nearly 200 volunteers from 50 cities and counties. If achieved, the STAR rating is good for three years and will distinguish Broward County as a national leader in sustainable practices.

“Broward County’s participation in the STAR pilot program will allow benchmarking of our sustainability efforts against other communities,” said Dr. Jennifer Jurado, director of the County’s Natural Resources Planning and Management Division. “It is an opportunity to showcase our work nationally, to provide inspiration to other local governments around the country which are also working to increase health, resource efficiency and climate resilience of their communities and to learn from those communities that lead the nation in other sustainable practices.”

Dr. Gassman and Jill Horwitz, STAR project manager, will be contacting agencies and asking them to share their sustainable practices and programs that may contribute points toward Broward County’s STAR Community rating. For more information, call Dr. Nancy Gassman, Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management, at 954-519-1295, or email ngassman@broward.org.