St. Pete Earns 3-STAR Rating for Sustainability Leadership
The national rating comes from the STAR Communities, a comprehensive framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing economic, environmental, and social performance measures.
ST. PETERSBURG – Mayor Rick Kriseman announced last month that St. Petersburg has been formally certified in the STAR Community Rating SystemTM and has earned a 3-STAR Community Rating.
This national recognition for sustainability leadership makes St. Petersburg the sixth in the state and the 58th nationwide to achieve certification from STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that evaluates and certifies sustainable communities. Several Florida cities and counties are using the STAR rating system to support local sustainability efforts, including five others that have been certified: Broward, Monroe and Lee counties and the cities of Palm Bay, and West Palm Beach.
STAR is the nation’s leading framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing social, economic and environmental performance measures. STAR helps communities evaluate their strengths and weaknesses across seven areas: the built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education, arts and community; health and safety; and natural systems. For instance, communities get credit for reductions in energy use or increased transportation access. STAR Communities provides support as localities benchmark progress, and a robust third-party verification process ensures accountability.
“St. Petersburg’s citizens take great pride in our natural and built environments, the arts & culture, and neighborhood engagement throughout the community,” Kriseman said. “We are proud that STAR Communities has verified the city as a 3-STAR national leader in sustainability. We look forward to becoming a 5-Star community within a couple of years thanks to our ongoing efforts.”
Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements, which then are used to determine their rating. There are three STAR certification levels: 3-STAR (200-399 points), 4-STAR (400-599 points), and 5-STAR (600+ points). St. Petersburg received a final score of 381.7 points, qualifying if for the Certified 3-STAR Community Rating for sustainability leadership. Some highlights from the city’s application include:
Built environment: St. Petersburg’s robust park system was a key component to a strong score in this goal area. The park system provides 24.6 acres per 1,000 residents. In addition, 72 percent of households are within a one-half-mile walk to a public park and 99 percent of residents live within 3 miles of an off-road trail.
Climate and energy: Since 2014, the City has reduced energy use by 12.33 percent in energy intense infrastructure such as water facilities, streetlights, and water delivery. The city has also demonstrated a 13 percent reduction in total solid waste generated over the past 10 years.
Education, arts and community: Almost 100 percent of St. Petersburg residents attend a live performing arts event annually, and 54 percent attend an art museum at least once a year; 83 percent of residents live within one mile of a community venue that is open to the public and provides community events. High school graduation rates have improved by 4 percent.
Health and safety: 80 percent of adults in St. Petersburg reported leisure time physical activity during the reporting period. In addition, three hospitals in the county were recognized as top performers by the Joint Commission, and the St. Petersburg Fire Department received a Class 1 ISO Rating for Superior Fire Protection (the highest available).
Information and data was gathered for the certification application with the assistance of community partners including the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay Watch, St. Petersburg Sustainability Council, Chart 411, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and the Greenhouse, Suncoast Sierra Club, the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, USF Patel College of Global Sustainability, 2020 Task Force, and many others.
“Sustainable cities provide a healthy environment, support a strong economy, and continually improve the well-being of the community,” said Hilari Varnadore, executive director of STAR Communities. “The data and information that St. Petersburg gathered through the process will help them continue to make improvements that benefit the whole community.”
St. Petersburg | STAR Communities | Sustainability | Environment | TB Reporter
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