City works to be sustainability 'star'

Catherine Hurley

Evanston is in the midst of a competition with 30 other communities around the country to receive the first star ratings in a new environmental sustainability program.
At a Sustain Evanston meeting at the Levy Center Saturday, the city's sustainability coordinator, Catherine Hurley, provided an update on what she described as a massive data collection effort to measure how the city is doing.
Since the city was invited to participate in the Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating, or STAR, program a year ago, to receive a stFor the past year, Evanston has participated in a national pilot program to measure how cities across the country add up when it comes to sustainability.
STAR Communities is the first national framework and certification program designed to measure sustainability in communities nationwide. The program was designed in conjunction with local governments, the U.S. Green Building Council, the National League of Cities and the Center for American Progress, in addition to several hundred volunteers from federal agencies, various state agencies and private corporations.
Evanston will be one of the first 30 American communities to receive a STAR rating. The program requires a $5,000 fee, Hurley said in an interview following her presentation. The fee covers access to the program's tools, technical and other types of support, she said.
Hurley and a small team of unpaid interns, in addition to city staff across all departments, have been gathering data that corresponds to the seven categories covered by the STAR rating.
Those categories include the built environment, climate and energy, economy and jobs, education, the arts and community, equity and empowerment, health and safety and natural systems.
Sustainability is defined as an issue that impacts not only the environment, but the economy, equity and general livability in a community as well, Hurley said.
"One of the big things in this process was just figuring out what we're doing in all these areas," she said.
As part of the program, the city is given a list of actionable activities and measurements in each category. A community racks up points based on measurable data, ordinances and other verifiable community activities. In order to achieve a rating, the city must upload all of this data to the STAR website, Hurley said.
STAR ratings range from three to five stars. Hurley said the city's current goal is to achieve a four-star rating in the program.
No final data has been submitted, but by current estimates, the city aims to receive between 52 and 87 percent of the total points offered in each category. According to Hurley's presentation, Evanston's strongest category is education, the arts and community, and its weakest is equity and empowerment.
Hurley said the city has more arts activities, including performing, musical and visual arts, than many larger communities. The city also boasts a large number of historical districts and more social and cultural opportunities than similarly sized communities, she said.
But environmental justice, a subgroup of the equity and empowerment category, is something the city needs to spend more time working on, Hurley said.
Environmental justice, essentially, is the reduction and elimination of toxic or polluted environments located near low income and minority communities.
In recent years, the city has identified the Veolia transfer station on Church Street as an environmental nuisance worth getting rid of. The city's "aggressive" actions on this issue has earned it some points in the environmental justice category, Hurley said.
But she said Evanston needs "a community wide plan for other sites that could also be an issue."
Once Evanston receives it's STAR rating, it will have a shelf-life of three years, Hurley said. But in order to maintain that rating three years from now, the city will need to make continuous improvements on whatever work has already been done.
Hurley said the she plans to host a meeting on Oct. 15 to invite community groups who may have usable data they can contribute to the program. She plans to have all the data collected by Nov. 30, with a goal of submitting all necessary information to the STAR program by Dec. 20. At that time, the city should expect to receive its rating within 30 to 60 days.
With the rating in hand, Hurley expects that the city will have more meetings about its sustainability efforts and how to improve upon them.  

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Comments

Center for American Progress

How, in God's name, can Evanston find itself in a contest that is sponsored by the Center for American Progress, http://www.americanprogress.org/ ? It takes less than a minute on their web site to recognize that this organization is one that massively contributes to the moral corruption of this country. Being part of this contest will not end with the city receiving a gold star but may result in another embarrassing incident for the community.
Catherine Hurley really needs to think before she leaps into a cesspool of embarrassment.

Smart, Guy, I'd be interested

Smart, Guy, I'd be interested to know how you connect americanprogress.org to "moral corruption."
Thanks

Just check out their web site.

and you will see that they are primarily a pro-abortion organization. If you are also in favor of ending an unborn human life, then I can see why you might favor them. I wonder how much of the 5k they got to pocket.

It's not about politics, it's about a liveable future

So one founding member you don't like makes being involved in this a terrible idea? Did you bother to look at the rest of the founding organizations? Are you embarassed by ICLEI USA, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the National League of Cities? (And Center for American Progress was founded by Bill Clinton's Cheif of Staff, not exactly someone far from mainstream thought.)
How about the other cities that have signed on as Pilot Communities (http://www.starcommunities.org/communities/star-community-pilots)? Seattle, Portland, and Northhampton, Mass, for example, are not known for right-wing politics, while Des Moines, Cleveland, Toronto, Chandler, Ariz. and Chattanooga, Tenn. are not exactly known as far-left communities. All of them are well-regarded cities and towns.
And funders range from Waste Management and Siemens to the Kendeda Fund and the Overbrook Foundation; again, a wide range of support.
I attended this meeting and heard the details and am impressed with where it can lead. A very small $5000 investment has already lead to thinking outside the box, coordination between government and the NGOs and private sector, and that's before the review of the data. It's not a contest; it's more like a test where the grade tells you how you are doing and how you compare with your peers so you can acheive what needs to be done for success in life.
I may like the Center for American Progress, but even if I did not, I do like this STAR concept and it's broad way of looking at sustainability. The other founding organizations are very diverse. (How the Center for American Progress is associated with moral corruption, I can't imagine.)
It's collaboration and compromise that will move actual progress forward. It's single-minded thinking on either side of the political spectrum that ends in failed government (and shutdowns!). If you look at the work of the Natural Resources Defense Council, they are brave enough to partner with corporations to get companies to make real, measureable progress.
I grew up in the environmental movement when it was all about protest. Government was bad, business was bad, and solutions were few and far between. Sometimes I find it a bit disconcerting when environmental causes and big business or big government join together, wondering if the values of the environmental group will be "polluted," but generally I have found this leads to actual progress instead of just conflict.
I don't appreciate the crack regarding Catherine Hurley's needing to think before acting, since a large measure of thinking has gone into this and we are very lucky to have a city manager and City department heads who believe in the benefit of a program like this to inform the city about areas of strengths and areas needing major improvements. It takes bravery to look hard at what's being done instead of patting ourselves on the back or green-washing our true situation.

Not Thinking

“So one founding member you don't like makes being involved in this a terrible idea?”
----- It only takes one really rotten organization to spoil the whole concept even though there are several others mentioned that I don’t think of highly.  -----
“ (And Center for American Progress was founded by Bill Clinton's Cheif of Staff, not exactly someone far from mainstream thought.)”
----- Clinton tried really hard to be close to mainstream but never achieved it. He also never achieved 50% of the vote in either election and only became president because of a strong conservative 3rd party candidate. Podesta was closer to being mainstream than Clinton and saved Clinton’s ass by coming up with the idea to “wag the dog”, change the subject in a major way. It really doesn’t really matter. The current head of CAP, Neera Tanden,  is an extremist in anybody’s definition.    -----
“Seattle, Portland, and Northhampton, Mass, …. are not known for right-wing politics, while Des Moines, Cleveland, and Toronto, are not exactly known as far-left communities.”
-----  Seattle, Portland, and Northhampton, Mass are known for liberal politics, while Des Moines produces nearly half the democratic vote in Iowa, Cleveland typically has an 80% turnout for democratic, and Toronto is easily the most liberal big city in Canada.  -----
“I attended this meeting and heard the details and am impressed with where it can lead. A very small $5000 investment has already lead to thinking outside the box ….. It's not a contest; it's more like a test where the grade tells you how you are doing and how you compare with your peers”
----- So we need to spend 5k of taxpayers’ dollars to find out how we are doing in relationship to our peers. Who really cares how we are doing against our peers. It buys us zilch. I know that 5k is not as much as 2m for a trader joe’s parking lot but, combined, $ 2,005,000 could have been used to fund a fresh water retention tank. -----
“How the Center for American Progress is associated with moral corruption, I can't imagine.”
----- If you look at their web site you will see that they are very Pro-Abortion. This has nothing to do with climate change. I can see that if you agree with them and are in favor of ending unborn human life for any reason, you will like them.  -----

“I don't appreciate the crack regarding Catherine Hurley's needing to think before acting, since a large measure of thinking has gone into this and we are very lucky to have a city manager and City department heads who believe in the benefit of a program”
----- It was only 2 years ago when she produced a paper that was to justify the elimination of plastic bags in Evanston. The problem is that she provided a one sided look at the issue. This is the same type of performance by her. She is putting her faith in submitting her data to groups that already agree with her. Does she think that she is fooling the people of Evanston or is she not think things through? Based on your feelings, you could easily find donors to pay the 5k and not burden the taxpayers.  -----

It's nothing but politics

The very costly staff time already invested (wasted), plus the ongoing staff time to continually input data for this so called "contest" is a complete waste of time and money that far and away exceeds the 5K upfront "fee".
There is nothing this "contest" does that we cannot do on our own anyway, making this nothing but expensive and meaningless political grandstanding.
 
 

Answer

Because the City of Evanston is and has always been a sharply left leaning community dominated by Democrats in office and public.
So it is no wonder the city would engage this contest, and sadly waste $5,000.00, monies that could be spent in other places instead of entry into this Green contest.

I'm just hoping someone

I'm just hoping someone spends some City Council time thinking about how not to go bankrupt like Detroit. Green is good only if you're not bankrupt.