Steamboat City Council considers enrollment in national certification program for sustainability efforts

Scott Franz

— The Steamboat Springs City Council is considering enrolling the city in a national certification program that would grade how environmentally friendly the city is.

But first, the council wants to know more about how much the recognition and the benefits of the program would cost the city.

Becoming a STAR Community was one of three options city staff recently pitched to the council to help the body achieve its newly-adopted goal of having the city be a leader in sustainability.

Dozens of communities across the country are using the STAR Community Rating System to measure how sustainable they are and to set sustainability-related goals.

Communities apply to become STAR communities and then are audited on a wide variety of sustainability measures ranging from availability of transportation to a municipality’s use of resource efficient buildings.

Cities can pick and choose which objectives they value most and choose to be graded on them.

The purpose of the rating system is to “help communities identify, validate and support implementation of best practices to improve sustainable community conditions,” according to STAR’s website.

There currently are three communities in Colorado participating in the STAR program.

They include Fort Collins, Lakewood and Nederland.

On Tuesday night, the City Council directed city staff to look into what it would cost to engage in the STAR program for the next three years.

The council also wanted the city to look into costs of the other possible options that included hiring a consultant to aid in sustainability efforts or for the city to develop a plan internally.

Several council members appeared to prefer the national rating system.

Casey Earp, the assistant to City Manager Deb Hinsvark, told the council that one of the pros of the STAR rating system is the city would not have to “re-create our own wheel” to measure sustainability related efforts.

Council’s direction came after city staff provided an update on the city’s sustainability efforts.

It recently revived its Green Team to help guide sustainability efforts.

It also collected a range of data ranging from the city’s annual fuel usage (approximately 110,000 gallons of gas and diesel) to greenhouse gas emissions from city facilities.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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