Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sustainable Communities Get Rating Tool

A nationwide sustainable development advocacy group presented its plans this morning in Pittsburgh to create a new tool to help rate local government’s efforts to create sustainable communities. Lynn Barker is the program director for the STAR Community Index. She says they are still building the tool but they know it will not just deal with green issues. She says the advisory panel quickly decided to include all 3 pillars included in the original definition of Sustainability; Environment, Economy and Society. Barker says under Environment, committees are dealing with natural systems, energy & climate and planning & design issues. Under the heading of Economy, the committees are exploring economic disparities and workforce & training. (Including living wage and job creation) Finally, the pillar of Society includes education & the arts, Social equity & affordability and health & safety. Barker says the committees are trying to figure out how one tool can compare the efforts of large and small communities. She says the goal is for the STAR Community Index to not only be an effective yardstick but also a guide to communities just starting to explore the idea of sustainability. Barker says they are looking at the LEED certification concept as a model. She says until those guidelines were issued and the rating system devised, the construction industry was grappling with the “hows” and “whys” of green building. She says after the certification was introduced green building practices were standardized and became much more mainstream. She says she hopes this will give guidance to elected officials waning to launch sustainability initiatives and rewards to those already dong a good job.

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