Columbia has become the first city in South Carolina to be awarded a 3-STAR community rating by nonprofit STAR Communities, an organization that evaluates community livability and sustainability.
STAR considers more than 500 social, economic and environmental performance measures. The organization noted several Columbia sustainability initiatives, according to a news release from the city. These included the city’s Climate Action Protection Campaign, created in 2007; the city’s recycling rate of 60%, which is 20% higher than the baseline requirement; and the 133 net new businesses opened in the past three years.
“We are incredibly excited and proud to be the first city in South Carolina to achieve a STAR rating,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “Our city staff and community have proven their commitment to making Columbia increasingly sustainable across a variety of performance areas, and this recognition provides us with an assessment backed by data that will help us determine our next steps. Through our Climate Action Protection Campaign and other programs, we will continue in our bold commitment to protecting our planet and fulfill our responsibility to our children, their children and beyond.”
More than 70 communities have been certified by STAR, including Atlanta, Winston-Salem, Raleigh and Birmingham.
“The STAR rating process gives cities a roadmap for how they can refine and improve their operations to drive continuous improvement,” said Hilari Varnadore, executive director of STAR Communities. “The City of Columbia should be applauded for its commitment to sustainability, and for the clarity and transparency provided while achieving its goals.”