Gold Star Standard in Health

It is time we stop thinking of health as something we get at the doctor’s office but instead as something that starts in our homes, in our schools and workplaces, in our playgrounds and parks, and in the air we breathe and the water we drink. The more we see the problem of health this way, the more opportunities we have to improve it. Scientists have found that the conditions in which we live and work have an enormous impact on our health, long before we ever see a doctor.*

Beyond the traditional role of local health officials and departments, municipalities have a considerable impact on those conditions that determine how well and how long we live through their functions in public education, land-use planning and zoning, transportation planning, environmental management, housing, infrastructure investments, recreational programming, provision of open and green spaces, police and public safety, and economic development.

Each municipality in New Jersey has its own health and health equity needs, impacted by the various social and environmental conditions placing particular stresses on the health of individuals and the community at-large. The Gold Star Standard in Health is designed to provide flexibility for municipalities as they develop their own unique plan to address these needs.

The Gold Star in Health identifies specific actions and levels of performance for municipalities to achieve these goals by demonstrating how they have effectively incorporated health in municipal decision-making and addressed certain social and environmental conditions impacting the health of their communities.

View a list of partners who helped to advise and develop the new Gold Star in Health.

A New Way to Talk about the Social Determinants of Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2010.


Gold Star Standard in Health Requirements

Bronze or Silver certified municipalities can earn a Gold Star in Health if they are approved for implementing a specific combination of seven certification program actions – three required and four flexible that relate to your specific municipal health issues uncovered in the Local Health Assessment.

Specifically, a municipality will need to be approved for:

  1. The foundational Local Health Assessment & Action Plan action;
  2. Two required actions: Best Practices for Local Boards of Health and Integrating Health in Municipal Decision-Making;
  3. Two High Impact actions selected by the municipality; and
  4. Two Additional actions selected by the municipality that address health and health equity within the community. 

The high impact and additional actions must be drawn from at least three Health Gold categories. See the Gold Star in Health Action below for a list of categories and actions included in the Gold Star in Health.

NOTE: Non-Sustainable Jersey actions which address a health (equity) issue identified in the Local Health Assessment may be submitted as "Innovative Projects” for consideration. Sustainable Jersey reviewers will determine if such innovative actions (a) count towards the Gold Star in Health (i.e., improve the conditions for health), and, if relevant, (b) qualify as high impact.

Download Framework

How to Apply for the Gold Star Standard in Health

The application for the Gold Star in Health appears in the format of an “action” in the Gold Star Application section of the Municipal Dashboard. The Gold Star in Health application requires the municipality to identify the certification actions which are approved in a prior cycle but not expired, currently approved, and/or submitted and pending approval in the current certification cycle. All certification actions successfully completed to meet the Gold Star in Health requirements also count towards Sustainable Jersey certification.

Municipalities seeking the Gold Star in Health would apply during Sustainable Jersey’s annual certification cycle and submit the required information at the same time they submit their application for Bronze or Silver certification. It is recommended that a municipality wait until the second or final application submission deadline to submit the Gold Star in Health action if meeting the requirements is contingent on actions being approved in their municipal certification application.

View Gold Star Standard in Health Action

Informational Webinars

Sustainable Jersey hosted a series of webinars covering new actions and requirements for achieving the Gold Star Standard in Health. Learn how health connects to sustainability and equity, an overview of the Gold Star in Health framework and online application process, and take a deep dive into several new actions included in Health Gold.

To view recordings/presentations for past Health Gold webinars:

Visit Our Presentations Page

To view a webinar clip related to the following specific actions, click on the link and advance to the time listed below. Note: You may need to register in order to view the recording.

Questions about the Gold Star Standard in Health?

Contact Lauren Skowronski, Program Director for Community Engagement, at or 609-771-3129.