Tucson Earns Impressive Sustainability Rating

Visit Tucson Street Car STAR Communities has awarded the City of Tucson a 4-STAR Community Rating for leadership in sustainability. Tucson is just the fifth city in the country to earn an impressive four out of five stars, reflecting a community-wide commitment to quality of life, prosperity, and equity.

“Tucson is focused on sustainability,” said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “The reduction in per capita water use, the participation in my 10,000 Trees Campaign, the enthusiasm for solar, rainwater harvesting, and multi-modal options - all this and more reflects Tucsonans’ concern for the environment and quality of life. When a city receives an award, it’s the result of the collective efforts of staff and residents. I’m very proud of this recognition and I trust Tucsonans are, too.”

The STAR Community Ratings System is a framework and certification program for local sustainability. The ratings system encompasses economic, environmental, and social performance measures for local governments and the broader community. Tucson received a perfect score for six of the rating’s objectives: Community Water Systems, Water in the Environment, Natural Resource Protection, Outdoor Air Quality, Industrial Sector Resource Efficiency, and Business Retention & Development. These scores reflect the efforts of Tucson Water to ensure a secure water supply, the community’s strong ethic toward conservation, the region’s emphasis on preserving the natural desert environment, and the City’s continued efforts to support businesses, including the creation of the Office of Economic Initiatives. 

“We applaud Tucson’s ongoing work to make smart decisions that ensure the health, safety, and well-being of current residents and future generations,” said Hilari Varnadore, STAR Communities’ executive director. “The data Tucson submitted made a compelling case that the City is making smart investment decisions to protect scarce resources, grow and retain businesses, and attract a rich diversity of new residents.”

“The STAR rating reflects the sustainability actions and ethic of our entire community,” said City of Tucson Sustainability Manager Leslie Ethen. “Achieving a 4-STAR rating was made possible through the contributions of approximately 150 individuals from different agencies, nonprofits, and business and community groups, who provided information about their organization’s efforts to make Tucson more sustainable.”

When people think about sustainability, they usually think about the environment. It is important to remember that economic sustainability is a key component to a truly sustainable community, and played a large role in this high rating.


Local First Arizona contributed to the efforts of this rating by highlighting our work in supporting a sustainable local economy in Tucson. STAR Communities awarded full credit to Tucson for achieving the following local economy goals: increase the total funds deposited in locally-owned and operated financial institutions over time; conduct an assessment of local economic conditions, including economic leakage and targeted sectors for future investment; promote purchasing preferences for locally-produced goods and services in anchor institutions, including the local government; create or support promotional campaigns to bank locally, buy locally, or buy from small and independent businesses and retailers (that's us!); provide support services to targeted sectors to strengthen value chain infrastructure and develop market channels; and connect entrepreneurs and business owners with lenders and investors to facilitate investment in the local economy

Congratulations Tucson, you're doing great things to create and support sustainable communities and local economies in Arizona! To view Tucson’s full report, go to