STAR Community

Over thirty Sustainable Dubuque partners completed a year-long, quantitative assessment to achieve a 4-STAR rating from STAR Communities, earning 468 points across seven categories measuring economic, environmental and social factors.  Dubuque was honored to become just the third Iowa community and the 25th in the nation to achieve certification under the national STAR Community Rating System (STAR).  Read the full news release announcing Dubuque’s 4-STAR rating here.

What is the STAR Communities Rating System?

STAR stands for Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating Communities. STAR Communities is a national framework for measuring and advancing local government’s environmental, economic and community efforts to achieve sustainability. 

While the nationally-developed framework uses slightly different words, the seven major objectives mirror Dubuque’s twelve sustainability principles.  STAR’s rating criteria is designed to assess communities’ sustainability efforts in a clear and data-driven way.

How did Dubuque become a 4-STAR Community?

In 2014, over 30 Sustainable Dubuque partners collected data to measure our progress towards national sustainability standards.  Dubuque earned 468 points, a significant achievement.

The 4-STAR rating is a reflection of the qualities that make Dubuque a better place to live, work and play. The STAR framework is comprehensive, including everything from how safe our residents feel, how successful our schools are, and how fast our emergency response times are, to things like workforce readiness, housing affordability, and civic engagement.

What does STAR measure?

The City was provided a checklist of measurements, actionable items, and desired outcomes over seven goal areas. Overall, this collaborative and massive data collection effort illuminates how Dubuqueis doing - organizing, analyzing, and presenting information needed to meet and improve upon sustainability goals. The categories include:

  • Built Environment: Achieve livability, choice, and access for all where people live, work, and play.
  • Climate and Energy: Reduce climate impacts through adaptation and mitigation efforts and increase resource efficiency.
  • Economy and Jobs: Empower vibrant, educated, connected, and diverse communities.
  • Education, Arts, and Community: Create equitably shared prosperity and access to quality jobs.
  • Equity and Empowerment: Ensure equity, inclusion, and access to opportunity for all citizens.
  • Health and Safety: Strengthen communities to be healthy, resilient and safe places for residents and businesses.
  • Natural Systems: Protect and restore the natural resource base upon which life depends.

Additionally, credit can be earned for Innovation and Process: exemplary performance, innovation, best practices and processes, and regional priority.

A summary of Dubuque’s rating can be found here, and a full profile can be found on STAR’s website.

Looking Forward

The STAR rating lasts for three years.  While we celebrate our successes, the Sustainable Dubuque partners are working to improve upon our existing work in the areas of environmental, economic and social sustainability. Stay tuned for ways to get involved in creating a more viable, livable and equitable community!


STAR seal