STAR Community Sustainability Rating System

What is the STAR Community Sustainability Rating System?

The STAR Community Rating System (STAR) is the first national certification program to recognize sustainable communities. Local leaders use STAR to assess their sustainability, set targets for moving forward, and measure progress along the way.

The Rating System is divided into 7 thematic sustainability goal areas.

  • Built Environment: Quality, Choice & Access Where We Live, Work & Play
  • Climate & Energy: Increase Efficiency, Reduce Impact
  • Economy & Jobs: Quality Jobs, Shared Prosperity
  • Education, Arts & Community: Vibrant, Connected & Diverse Culture
  • Equity & Empowerment: Inclusion & Access for All Community Members
  • Health & Safety: Strong, Resilient & Safe
  • Natural Systems: Protect & Restore the Resources of Life

Within these 7 areas, are 44 Objectives that are each worth between 5 and 20 points. Communities document how well they have met the Objectives by demonstrating: achievement on sustainability metrics (Outcomes) and local efforts (Actions) designed to improve these Outcomes. STAR evaluates each community’s submission, determines which Outcomes have been adequately obtained and which Actions the community has sufficiently documented that they take, and then assigns a score to that community. With a total of 720 points available, communities can be certified as 3-STAR (200-399 points), 4-STAR (400-599 points), and 5-STAR (600+ points).

For more information on STAR, you can check out their website.

Tucson’s Sustainability Rating

Tucson was one of the first cohort of 20 communities to apply for and receive STAR certification. See press release here. Tucson’s 4-STAR rating shows this community’s commitment to quality of life, environmental protection, economic prosperity, smart growth, and social equity and diversity. Tucson’s complete score can be found here.

Tucson received perfect scores on 6 Objectives:

  • Outdoor Air Quality
  • Business Retention and Development
  • Community Water Systems
  • Natural Resource Protection
  • Water in the Environment
  • Industrial Sector Resource Efficiency

Tucson also scored very high in:

  • Civil and Human Rights
  • Safe Communities
  • Climate Adaptation
  • Active Living

If you want to know how you can help improve Tucson’s score and move us closer to 5-STAR status, click here.


A discussion of Tucson’s STAR rating would not be complete without acknowledgement of the tremendous amount of assistance the Office of Integrated Planning Sustainability Section received from other City Departments, other government entities, non-profits, community organizations, and other knowledgeable individuals. The STAR rating is truly a COMMUNITY rating, with everyone here contributing to the score we received. From the efforts of the City’s Economic Initiatives to promote business development; to the City and County’s innovative Action Plan for a Sustainable Water Future; to the County’s award-winning Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan; to the efforts of our school districts, to make our schools healthier; to the partnerships represented by the City’s advisory committees; to everyone’s choices as an individual to use less energy, ride the bus, recycle, volunteer their time, or attend a performing arts event.  Every single one of these actions resulted in the score that got this community an impressive 4-STAR sustainability rating.

Among the entities that assisted with our data collection effort are:

City of Tucson Departments Other Governmental Entities

Business Licenses

Channel 12

Clerk’s Office

Economic Initiatives

Emergency Management

Environmental Services

Equal Opportunity Programs

General Services

Housing and Community Development

Human Resources

Information Technology

Parks & Recreation


Planning and Development Services


Public Information Office



Tucson Fire

Tucson Police

Tucson Water

Pima Association of Governments

Tucson Unified School District

University of Arizona

Pima County Development Services

Pima County Emergency Management

Pima County Environmental Quality

Pima County Health Department

Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Sustainability and Conservation

Pima County One Stop

Pima County Regional Flood Control District

Pima County Wastewater Reclamation

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality

Other Partners/Contributors University of Arizona interns

Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

Habitat for Tucson

Metropolitan Energy Commission

National Optical Astronomy Observatory

Salvation Army

Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center

Southern Arizona Water Users Association

Southwest Gas

Steward Observatory


Tucson Clean and Beautiful

Tucson Electric Power

Tucson-Pima Arts Council

Tucson Urban League

Workforce Investment Boards

Aysan Abdollahzadeh

Brianna Addotta

Gabriel Beita-Kiser

Elizabeth Champagne

Taylor Goelz

Caroline Hernandez

Mireille Hofmann-Jacquod

Ashley Hullinger

Patricia Paul

Samuel Paz

Richard Robinett

Holly Winzel