Kaid Benfield Archive


EPA's 2008 smart growth award winners

Kaid Benfield

Posted November 20, 2008 at 11:37PM

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Wednesday afternoon I attended the presentation of EPA's annual National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement.  There are four worthy winners, each of which gave a brief presentation:

Downtown Silver Spring (MD) Redevelopment Project (Award for Overall Excellence)

  Silver Spring before revitalization  Silver Spring today

Just over the DC line in Montgomery County, Maryland, Silver Spring has been a classic older suburb in need of a boost for most of my time in Washington.  They got one.  EPA's awards publication puts it this way:

"One of Washington, D.C.'s first suburban shopping districts, Silver Spring peaked in the 1950s.  However, as growth in the region spread ever outward, the downtown experienced a decades-long decline.             

"Today, downtown Silver Spring is resurgent as an arts and entertainment destination for the region.  A strong community vision, public investments, partnerships with the private sector, a great location, and transportation choices worked together to create this model for inner-ring suburban renaissance."

Livable Centers Initiative, Atlanta (Award for Policies and Regulations)

  development assisted by the LCI  an LCI project in Duluth

The LCI is a terrific model for how to leverage federal transportation funds, even under existing law, to build walkable, transit-accessible communities that reduce the need for new road building.  It is, quite literally, spending money to save money on transportation projects.  Here's EPA again:

"Spurred by alarming growth in air pollution and traffic congestion, loss of jobs to outlying areas, and the decline of town centers throughout the region, the Atlanta Regional Commission created the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) in 1999.  Since then, LCI has awarded more than $1 million annually in planning grants to help communities use transportation improvements to revitalize town centers and key corridors . . .

"The local plans must include intensive public involvement and support LCI's fundamental concepts: connectivity, enhancing streetscapes and sidewalks, emphasizing the pedestrian, improving transit access, and expanding housing options.  As of 2006, 724 projects had been completed or had broken ground in communities that received LCI funds. These developments include 63,000 residential units, more than 11 million square feet of commercial space, and 40 million square feet of office space."

Egleston Crossing, Roxbury, Massachusetts (Award for Built Projects)

  the site of Egleston Crossing, before  part of Egleston Crossing, today

One of the most visible themes in both the award selections and the speeches at Wednesday's event was the melding of green building and smart growth values, something I certainly endorse.  Egleston Crossing is a great example of that, as well as a great example of affordable smart growth:

"Located in Boston's Roxbury and Jamaica Plain neighborhoods, Egleston Crossing has brought life back to a neighborhood in need of environmental clean-up and new investment.  Two underused parcels of land-a former garage with a history of toxic waste problems and an abandoned theater-were cleaned up and now house new, green, mixed-use structures.

"The redevelopment of these two buildings includes 64 new residential units for low-income residents, almost a quarter of which are reserved for disabled and formerly homeless individuals . . . Positioned above 8,300 square feet of street-level commercial space, the apartments have easy access to amenities such as a coffee shop, a dental clinic, and a nationally acclaimed youth writing program . . . Green building features [detailed on EPA's National Awards web site] in Egleston Crossing reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and costs for residents."

Mission Creek Senior Community, San Francisco (Award for Equitable Development)

  Mission Creek  Mission Creek dining room

Another green, affordable, transit-accessible project, Mission Creek was built by the Roman Catholic charity Mercy Housing, with the support of the San Francisco Housing Authority.  It is also a great example of brownfield redevelopment:

"The Mission Creek Senior Community is in the Mission Bay North area of San Francisco.  The 303-acre area was formerly used for industrial purposes; historical usage included a sewage pumping station, a section of railroad and interstate highway, a box factory, lumber storage, and mill operations . . .

"To combine service-enriched affordable housing with environmentally healthy living conditions for seniors, Mercy Housing employed a LEED-certified contractor and architect who used green building techniques and materials . . . A public library, 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, and adult day care present additional benefits to residents and community members. Only 25 feet away from a San Francisco Municipal street car stop, the project places a strong priority on transit options.  In addition to the street car, the project is two blocks from a CalTrain station, and a bus stop is less than a block away."

There is much more about the winners, along with the institutions and people who made them happen, on EPA's web site, which also details past winners.  Congratulations to these exemplary projects.

All photos are courtesy of EPA's wonderful smart growth office.