Northampton Earns Top Rating for Sustainability Practices

12 May 2014

Washington, D.C. (May 8, 2014) – STAR Communities announced today that Northampton, Massachusetts, is the first city in the United States to be awarded the 5-STAR Community Rating, STAR’s highest possible designation, and a recognition of Northampton’s strong record instituting a wide range of sustainability practices.

“Northampton has demonstrated that U.S. cities of all sizes are making tremendous strides toward building a more resilient economy, strengthening their social fabric and improving environmental health,” said Hilari Varnadore, STAR Communities’ executive director. “We were particularly impressed with Northampton’s across-the-board commitment to sustainability. From greenhouse gas mitigation to green business development, Northampton is a leader in its commitment to being a healthy and livable community.”

STAR Communities is a national leader in rating sustainability efforts of cities, towns and counties; its national ratings program helps communities evaluate themselves in seven areas related to sustainability, such as “Climate and Energy,” “Built Environment,” and “Economy and Jobs.” For instance, communities get credit for reductions in energy use, increased transportation access or increased ownership of alternative fuel vehicles by residents. STAR provides support as localities benchmark progress, and a third-party review ensures accountability.

Communities that choose to pursue certification are rated from 3 to 5 STARS based on their total score in those seven areas. Seventy cities across the country are vying for the top certification, but Northampton is the first to achieve 600 points, making it the first “5-STAR” city.

“We are honored to be recognized as a 5-STAR community, said Mayor David J. Narkewicz. “Northampton has long been committed to sustainability; our 5-STAR rating reflects many of the great things we already do and provides a blueprint for us to continue our progress.”

Wayne Feiden, Director of Northampton Planning and Sustainability, said “The STAR assessment brought together every city department, hundreds of community partners, and dozens of area non-profits and civic groups, and will be the basis for revising the Sustainable Northampton Comprehensive Plan. The process has helped make Northampton an even safer and healthier place to live, work and play.”

Several efforts stood out among Northampton’s sustainability initiatives:

    * Being on track to zero waste by 2050, and instituting a “pay as you throw” system
    * Setting a target of preserving 25 percent of the city as ecologically intact conservation areas
    * A “Buy Local/Buy Fair” policy requiring city departments to purchase locally produced, Fair Trade Certified products whenever possible

Northampton is one of more than 30 local governments that participated in a year-long pilot program with STAR Communities. Today, more than 70 communities, representing 33 million residents, participate in STAR. Other STAR-certified communities include Austin, Texas; Evanston, Illinois; Tacoma, Washington; and Indianapolis, Indiana.

“The STAR rating process gives cities a roadmap for how they can refine and improve their operations to drive continuous improvement,” Varnadore said. “It also fosters healthy competition among local governments.”

To view Northampton’s full report, go to