Kaid Benfield Archive


EPA announces "building blocks" for sustainability planning

Kaid Benfield

Posted February 4, 2011 at 1:36PM

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on February 3 the formation of Sustainable Communities Building Blocks, a program designed to help interested communities adopt sustainable planning methods.  Sustainable planning, said the agency, "helps safeguard the environment and spur economic development while also improving Americans’ health."

Interested communities are invited to apply to receive technical assistance during a day-long sustainability planning (courtesy of American Society of Landscape Architects)session in each location designed to help them achieve their sustainable planning goals. The application period opens on February 3 and ends on February 23, 2011.

Communities often run into common barriers when attempting to implement new approaches to growth and development, such as outdated zoning codes and other local regulations, lack of consensus around where and how to grow, and misconceptions about sustainable communities development approaches.  Moreover, many communities lack the technical expertise needed to make their regulatory environments more supportive of smart growth and the resources to educate local stakeholders about the economic and quality of life benefits these approaches can bring.

Each technical assistance project in a community will include:

  • Public engagement — for example, a one-day workshop that is open to the general public.
  • Direct consultation with relevant decision-makers.
  • A memo outlining specific steps the community could take if it wants to implement the ideas generated during the site visit.    

“We’re pleased to be part of this program to help communities build vibrant, healthy neighborhoods where families want to live and businesses want to invest and grow,” EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe said in a press release distributed by e-mail.  sustainability planning in Greensburg, KS (by: BNIM Architecture, Greensburg Sustainable Comprehensive Plan)“Through this program, we’ll walk communities through the process of making smart, cost-effective investments by helping them navigate existing tools vital to securing a lasting foundation for prosperity.”

EPA will work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to select 20 participating communities through a competitive process.  During the day-long session, participants will explore proven sustainability tools, including zoning code reviews, walkability assessments, parking policy analysis, climate action planning, and commuter benefits.  Each community will select a specific tool to focus on and also learn about general smart growth development strategies.

Sustainable Communities Building Blocks is being coordinated through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a joint effort among the EPA, HUD, and DOT to coordinate federal actions on housing, transportation, and environmental protection. This interagency collaboration achieves efficient federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services that meet multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives.

There is more information on the Sustainable Communities Building Blocks Program here and submission instructions for assistance here.

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