Sustainability superstar: Take some tips from Northampton, MA

Fri, 2014-05-09 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Northampton, Massachusetts – population 29,000 -- is the first 5-STAR Community in the U.S., according to STAR Communities, which rates sustainability efforts of cities, towns and counties. The certification reflects the wide range of sustainability practices that Northampton has instituted.

"We were particularly impressed with Northampton's across-the-board commitment to sustainability," said Hilari Varnadore, STAR Communities' executive director. "From greenhouse gas mitigation to green business development, Northampton is a leader in its commitment to being a healthy and livable community."

STAR says 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." Among Northampton's sustainability initiatives, STAR suggests several stood out:

    • Being on track to produce zero waste by 2050, and instituting a "pay as you throw" system
    • Setting a target of preserving 25% 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

Mayor David NarkewiczNorthampton Mayor David J. Narkewicz (pictured at left) said his city 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."

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

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