The North American Sustainable Transportation Council was founded in 2009 by transportation planners, project managers, and sustainability professionals to improve the performance of transportation plans and projects. We drew inspiration from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the Living Building Challenge, planning and certification systems that are transforming the building construction industry by rewarding projects for higher levels of performance.

The Council developed the Sustainable Transportation Analysis & Rating System, or STARS, to provide a road map for planners and communities seeking a more effective and systemic approach to achieve their transportation and livability goals. STARS is a flexible framework for communities to set and achieve triple bottom line goals for transportation investments.

From 2009-2015, the Council piloted STARS for transportation projects and for plans. After ten official pilot projects (alongside other less comprehensive applications of the STARS framework), we are putting the lessons we have learned into practice to pursue a new strategic direction.

Two lessons in particular will guide our future efforts.

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.

What’s Next? Building off of the robust framework developed for the Sustainable Transportation Rating and Analysis System (STARS), the Council will focus on three core services:
Common Ground Workshops,
Staff Training, and
Technical Assistance.