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National designation recognizes Northampton for sustainability effort 

Northampton last week was named one of 30 pilot STAR Communities by a national sustainability organization that helps communities analyze and rate their sustainability.

STAR Communities, or Sustainable Tools for Assessing & Rating Communities, will evaluate how the city is doing in seven areas. These include built environment, climate and energy, education, arts and community, economy and jobs, equity and empowerment, health and safety and natural systems.

The $3,500 cost of the STAR assessment will be covered by a state grant the city received.

The work will be incorporated into a larger overview of the city’s five-year-old Sustainable Northampton plan in which officials will assess whether its sustainable efforts are moving in the right direction.

“We are proud of our work making Northampton a more sustainable community but we want to understand how we can do an even better job,” Mayor David J. Narkewicz said in a press release. “STAR provides an independent rating system to help us understand what works and to understand our new opportunities.”

The city’s Office of Planning and Development will lead the STAR communities process and the evaluation of the Sustainable Northampton plan, though dozens of city agencies and boards will weigh in, Planning Director Wayne Feiden said.

He said when the city adopted the Sustainable Northampton plan in 2007, it committed to honestly assessing the progress towards being a more sustainable community. STAR will help in that effort.

“We see this as a way to keep our feet to the fire, both the city’s and the community’s,” Feiden said.

STAR is a program of the ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, the U.S. Green Building Council, the National League of Cities and the Center for American Progress.

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