The Council is currently accepting applications from agencies that would like STC to facilitate a workshop to support the development of a sustainable transportation plan or project.
From 2009-2015, the Council developed and piloted the Sustainable Transportation Analysis & Rating System (STARS). STARS is an integrated planning framework for transportation plans and projects. STARS helps planners, communities and decision-makers evaluate the impacts of transportation plans and projects, identify innovative strategies and improve decision-making.
After several years developing and testing STARS for Plans and Projects, the Council learned several lessons from our ten pilot projects. Two in particular have helped guide our new direction.
Lesson #1: In the development of a transportation plan or project, elected officials, staff, and other stakeholders often struggle to make decisions that support sustainable outcomes and reconcile different perspectives.
The Council’s Solution: We are refining our facilitated, game-based workshop to help groups with different perspectives (such as planners and engineers, or people living on, and those driving through, a corridor) work through issues and come to agreement on strategies that benefit all three elements of sustainability (economy, environment, and equity).
Lesson #2: Most transportation staff have not been trained to do outcome-based planning.
The Council’s Solution: We’re developing a training program to give staff and/or stakeholders sufficient knowledge to feel comfortable managing an outcome-based project or plan.
Building off of the robust framework developed for the Sustainable Transportation Rating and Analysis System (STARS), the Council will focus on developing and testing the facilitated workshop and the staff training programs.
The STARS Framework
While the Council will no longer be piloting the STARS accreditation system, the STARS framework will continue to inform STC workshops and trainings.
Many rating systems evaluate the design and construction of transportation projects, but not their future use. Yet the use of a transportation project (that is, the people, goods and vehicles moving along it over many years) often has bigger impacts than its construction. The decision of what to build can therefore be much more important than how to build it. STARS takes an “upstream” approach to evaluating transportation investments that distinguishes it from other rating systems.
STARS evaluates improved access rather than simply improved mobility. That is, STARS recognizes the value in people having access to work, school, goods and services, even if they do not have to travel far to do so. Travelling, or mobility, is a means to accessing these places, not an end in itself. A focus on access enables STARS users to find solutions to transportation problems that might otherwise be overlooked with a traditional focus on moving more people farther, faster.
State DOTs, regional agencies, cities, and counties are wrestling with how to improve access within seriously constrained budgets, while helping achieve economic, environmental, and equity goals. They need practical tools to compare their transportation projects and plans using a national best practices standard, which STARS provides.
STARS promotes plans and projects that are likely to achieve multiple goals. Though STARS credits are organized into distinct categories, the STARS framework allows users to optimize the areas of shared benefit across categories. As a result, the performance measures selected are often crosscutting, serving multiple goals. STARS encourages the use of a few manageable but powerful measures of sustainability.