Evanston is the second city in the nation to be awarded a 4-STAR Community Rating for national excellence in sustainability.
The City received the recognition from STAR Communities for its participation in the STAR Community Rating System (STAR), which evaluates economic, environmental and social factors to measure sustainability. In line with its tradition of leadership and its goal of being the Most Livable City in America, Evanston was among the first 30 local governments nationwide to be evaluated using the STAR framework.
“Sustainability is more than just saving energy—it means creating and maintaining a livable, healthy and efficient community accessible to all residents,” said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who announced the City’s certification in her State of the City Address on March 7, 2014. “Achieving a 4-STAR Community Rating places Evanston among leaders nationwide, and provides a blueprint for future progress.”
City staff leveraged strong relationships with dozens of community groups to gather the data necessary to complete the year-long, quantitative assessment.
Evanston far exceeded the 400 points necessary to achieve the 4-STAR rating, earning 488 points across seven categories: Built Environment; Climate and Energy; Education, Arts and Community; Economy and Jobs; Equity and Empowerment; Health and Safety; and Natural Systems. Although the City earned points for hundreds of actions and practices, notable achievements included:
- Access to parks and recreation. Evanston’s Recreation Division provided more than $477,000 in scholarships for programs and services, providing access to 7,200 people.
- Energy efficiency. The City has reduced electricity usage by 22 percent since 2005, exceeding its Climate Action Plan Goal, and purchased 100 percent renewable electricity for its 23 largest facilities over a three-year period.
- Recycling. The City’s programs diverted more than 9,000 tons of recycling and 2,000 tons of yard waste from landfills.
- Green transportation. Evanston is home to eight publicly available electric vehicle charging stations at City parking lots and garages, as well as seven miles of bike lanes, eight miles of off-street bike paths, and 32 miles of signed bike routes, with a commitment to add more.
- Volunteerism. Evanston community members logged more than 160,000 volunteer hours in 2013 alone.
Evanston joins Tacoma, Washington as the only other city to earn four out of five STARs using the rating system. Broward County, Florida also achieved a 4-STAR Community Rating. Other communities participating in the program include Portland, Oregon; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Santa Monica, California.
“Sustainable cities are defined as those who contribute to a healthy environment, support a strong economy, and continually improve the well-being of the community,” said Hilari Varnadore, executive director of STAR Communities. “Evanston should be applauded for its commitment to sustainability, and for the clarity and transparency provided while achieving its goals.”
Evanston’s 4-STAR certification is effective for three years, at which point the City will be reevaluated. For more information about Evanston’s 4-STAR Community Rating, including an infographic detailing the City's achievemet.