STAR Neighborhoods

The STAR Neighborhoods program gives Princeton residents the opportunity to actively participate in building a more sustainable, together and resilient community.

STAR neighborhoods select activities that will strengthen their community, reduce its carbon footprint, and inspire others to follow suit.

In doing so, neighborhoods earn program credits for their efforts and can achieve designation as a certified STAR Neighborhood for that calendar year.

Check out what the STAR Neighborhoods are doing so far.

Getting started.

Three actions are necessary to launch a STAR Neighborhood.

  1. Develop a Community Emergency Network: To start, identify your neighbors and build a contact list. Read more about how we define a neighborhood.

  2. Host a Neighborhood Gathering: Plan an event to bring everyone together, so you can begin to form relationships and have some fun. Check out our ideas for neighborhood gatherings.

  3. Establish Your Goals: At this or another neighborhood gathering, invite Sustainable Princeton to introduce the STAR Neighborhoods program, select at least two coordinators, and consider goals for your neighborhood.

Complete these three steps and you are ready to register for the STAR Neighborhood program.

Once your neighborhood has completed the three starting actions, you will have already earned 30 points!

To determine how you will get the next 70 or more points, review the STAR Neighborhood Action Items and select one or more actions to pursue over the next year. Please ensure this is a group decision, give special consideration to the priority actions, and consult with Sustainable Princeton to determine the best actions for your neighborhood.

Consider the example in Table 1 for what one neighborhood’s activity in a one-year period might look like. By performing the three starting actions, hosting two well-attended seminars, and implementating one priority action, the neighborhood earned just enough points to have achieved Silver STAR Neighborhoods certification.

Table 1: An Example of Actions and Awarded Points for a Sample Neighborhood

Earning Points.

Neighborhoods achieve STAR Neighborhood designation by performing selected actions and documenting their efforts to Sustainable Princeton. Documentation can simply be a photo from the event, a copy of the guest list, or a flyer from the event. STAR Neighborhood program credits are awarded based on the type of activity, as described in Table 2.

Three actions are required to start and each earn 10 points. All other actions should be viewed as potential Outreach, Seminar or Implementation actions, earning anywhere from 10 to 50 points, depending on the type of activity, and in certain cases the number of attendees.

Table 2: Points Awarded for Each Type of Activity

As an example, consider the multiple ways the Home Energy Audit action could be undertaken. As an Outreach activity, a neighborhood could distribute flyers about home energy audits. As a Seminar activity, a neighbor could host a speaker to explain home energy audits. Or as an Implementation activitiy, some of your neighbors could have home energy audits performed for their home and document the results. In either case, priority status adds 10 points to any one action.

Table 3: Points and Actions Required for Each Certification Level

Achieving Certification.

In order to receive certification as a STAR Neighborhood, neighborhoods should record actions and submit them to Sustainable Princeton with documentation. Sustainable Princeton will review all submissions and promptly award points to the neighborhood.

Neighborhoods achieving 100 or more points in a one-year period will be awarded Bronze, Silver, or Gold STAR Neighborhoods certification for that year, as per Table 3.

Benefits.

Each year, certified STAR Neighborhoods will be recognized by the Mayor and Council for their efforts, but perhaps the bigger reward is achieving new sustainability goals and forging new relationships in your neighborhood.

In our rushed and sometimes detached society, neighborhood relationships can be neglected. However, by getting to know your neighbors and learning to trust them, you can support each other during times of need, keep your home and neighborhood more secure, and even improve your health. Furthermore, STAR Neighborhoods have access to information and resources that can actually deliver financial savings.

On top of that, every neighborhood should be considered as a fundamental unit of social change. While a person can achieve great things in isolation, we believe the power of a group can do even more!

Renewal in Future Years.

All neighborhoods are encouraged to renew registration for a second year as a STAR Neighborhood. If registration is renewed within a month of the one-year anniversary, any leftover points from the first year will roll over to the next year. For example, if a neighborhood earns 132 points in one year, 100 points are used to achieve the Bronze certification, but 32 points rollover to the next year!

To begin the second year, a neighborhood should update its community emergency network, host another community gathering, and revisit the leadership and goals, before proceeding to select actions.

Nebula Neighborhoods.

Some neighborhoods hit the ground running. They are organized, meet regularly, and have already begun acting to make their community more sustainable. Great! We invite each of these neighborhoods to register as a Nebula Neighborhood, sharing their past actions with us, so that we can share them with the rest of Princeton.

But don’t stop there! Take 10 points and begin your journey as a STAR Neighborhood.

Defining a neighborhood.

By definition, a neighborhood is any residential district that forms a community within Princeton. Neighborhoods can be one block, a street, an apartment building, or even a collection of city blocks. For the STAR Neighborhood program, each neighborhood is welcome to define its own boundaries, based on its unique geographical characteristics.

Types of Neighborhood Gatherings.

To get you started, here are a few ideas to bring your community together.

  • Keep it simple: Host a block party, potluck or backyard bbq.
  • Make it academic: Organize a book exchange or game night.
  • Note your talents: Plan a talent show or karaoke party.
  • Add a twist: Include an international focus or a scavenger hunt
  • Highlight food: Coordinate a cookie swap, wine tasting or soup crawl.
  • Do some good: Organize a charity event or a community yard sale.

Have fun getting to know your neighbors.

Caldwell Park's Fall Picnic on 9/15

Need help?

Sustainable Princeton is here for you! We want to see your neighborhood succeed and achieve certification, so please ask for support and guidance at any step along the way. We can help brainstorm actions, find resources, and organize tours and speakers – just ask!

For more information, please email Sustainable Princeton’s Community Outreach Manager, contact Jenny Ludmer.

Thank you to our generous sponsor,
NRG Energy, Inc.