Smart Growth

Issue Summary
Other Federal Agencies
Organizations/Non-Government Programs
Databases and Tools
Financial Assistance

Issue Summary

Smart growth is development that serves the economy, community and the environment. Over the last forty years a shift has taken place in the patterns of development. Traditional development fostered a sense of community while more recent development trends have led to sprawl and isolated pockets of growth. Sprawl can bring about increased traffic congestion as people are forced to rely upon automobiles for transportation. Sprawl also leads to loss of open spaces.

Recently, the debate about development has been changed by the emergence of a new perspective: smart growth. Smart growth tries to combat sprawl by recognizing the connections between development and the quality of life. Smart growth is development that is environmentally, fiscally, and economically sound. The following material includes information on recent news and events concerning smart growth, as well as full-text publications and links to other Web sites. These resources are assembled to assist local governments in learning more about smart growth and what it means to communities.

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Smart Growth. EPA helps communities grow in ways that expand economic opportunity, protect public health and the environment, and create and enhance the places that people love. Through research, tools, partnerships, case studies, grants, and technical assistance, EPA is helping America's communities turn their visions of the future into reality.

Follow the Smart Growth program on twitter @EPAsmartgrowth!

Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes
Across the country, local governments are searching for ways to create vibrant communities that attract jobs, foster economic development, and provide attractive places for people to live, work, and play. But many are discovering that their own land development codes and ordinances often get in the way of achieving these goals, and they may not have the resources or expertise to make the specific regulatory changes that will create more sustainable communities. This tool can help.-- (full text)

EPA Smart Growth Grants and Other Funding

The EPA smart growth program sometimes offers grants to support activities that improve the quality of development and protect human health and the environment. When these grants are offered, they will always be announced on this Web page and on

Making Smart Growth Happen
Find tools and information to help you improve your community: technical assistance, educational opportunities, tools for communities, partnerships.

About Smart Growth 
Learn about smart growth issues and environmental benefits. Find information about specific topics, resources, and examples of smart growth development, including the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. Access the EPA Smart Growth Newsroom for all the latest news and updates of the Smart Growth program.

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Examples of Smart Growth Communities and Projects

  • Community Stories - Information about how EPA helped a redevelopment project show that its smart growth measures would help reduce its air pollution, among other environmental benefits.
  • National Award for Smart Growth Achievement - EPA's annual award to recognize communities that use the principles of smart growth to create better places.
  • Smart Growth Illustrated - Visual examples of smart growth techniques as they have been used in different places.

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Other Federal Agencies

Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development. This project of the United States Department of Energy offers a Web site providing information about sustained growth. The site presents a comprehensive overview of the land use planning techniques currently being used and also lists case studies, upcoming conferences, and funding opportunities for growth-related projects.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Active Community Environments Initiative   
Federal Highway Administration - Planning, Environment, and Realty 
Federal Transit Administration 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Coastal Community Development

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California State Treasurer's Office - Pollution Control Financing Authority 
Delaware - Livable Delaware Agenda   
Georgia Department of Community Affairs - Planning and Quality Growth 
Maryland Department of Planning -- Office of Smart Growth 
New Hampshire - Office of Energy and Planning - Achieving Smart Growth in New Hampshire 
New Jersey Office of Smart Growth 
New York State Quality Communities Clearinghouse 
Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development 
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection - Growing Smarter 
Washington State Community, Trade, and Economic Development - Smart Growth 

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Organizations/Non-Government Programs

Smart Growth Network. The Smart Growth Network (SGN) offers a wealth of resources to help you in your smart growth efforts.  Membership in the Smart Growth Network is free. Now, anyone interested in smart growth can join SGN, and receive the bi-monthly newsletter Getting Smart, participate in discussions on the SGN members listserv, get tips and useful information from the SGN Information Hotline, and get access to the members section of the SGN Web site.

Trust for Public Land. TPL is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for human enjoyment and well-being. In addition to news, the TPL Web site offers a variety of full text, on-line reports.

Smart Growth America. A nationwide coalition promoting a better way to grow: one that protects open space, revitalizes neighborhoods, keeps housing affordable, and provides more transportation choices. The Web site includes "Smart Tools," links to other smart growth sites, and produces a bi-weekly newsletter on smart growth issues across the country.

American Farmland Trust. AFT is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1980 to protect our nation's farmland. AFT works to stop the loss of productive farmland and to promote farming practices that lead to a healthy environment.

Brookings Institution's Center on Urban and Metropolitan PolicyThis Web site examines urban policies that will help build strong neighborhoods, cities, and metropolitan regions.

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Regional Smart Growth Organizations

1000 Friends of Florida
1000 Friends of Iowa
1000 Friends of Maryland
1000 Friends of Oregon
1000 Friends of Wisconsin
10000 Friends of Pennsylvania
Environment Colorado 
Futurewise (Seattle, WA)
The Georgia Conservancy
Greater Ohio 
Greenbelt Alliance (San Francisco Bay Area)
Grow Smart Rhode Island
GrowSmart Maine 
Hawaii's Thousand Friends 
Idaho Smart Growth
Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance 
Michigan Environmental Council 
Montana Smart Growth Coalition 
New Jersey Future
Pennsylvania Environmental Council
Piedmont Environmental Council (Virginia)
Regional Plan Association (Connecticut, New Jersey, New York)
South Carolina Coastal Conservation League
Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, and Palm Beach Counties, Florida)
Vermont Natural Resource Council

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Other Organizations

AARP - Livable Communities 
Healthy Living by Design 
National Association of Home Builders 
National Conference of State Legislatures 
National Governors' Association Center for Best Practices 
Center for Transit-Oriented Development 
U.S. Green Building Council - LEED for Neighborhood Developments

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Community Design Tools

Context Sensitive Street Design
National Charrette Institute 
Orton Family Foundation Smart Growth Tools
The Smarter Land Use Project 

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Legislative Guidebook for Growing Smart. This publication contains model statutes for planning and the management of change. The model statutes are intended to provide local governments and others with ideas, principles, methods, and procedures drawn from various states, regions, and local governments across the country.

Developments and Dollars:  An Introduction to Fiscal Impact Analysis in Land Use Planning. This guide provides local officials and others concerned with sprawling development and growth issues with tools they need to examine the likely impacts of development proposals on local taxes and municipal budgets.

Best Development Practices: A Primer for Smart Growth. Available for $9 from the International City/County Management Association, this primer shows how changes in current development patterns can help stop sprawl.

Pedestrian- and Transit-Friendly Design: A Primer for Smart Growth. Available for $8 from the International City/County Management Association, this primer illustrates essential features of pedestrian- and transit-friendly design.

A Region Divided: The State of Growth in Greater Washington, D.C. This report, produced by the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, includes: (1) an overview of the region's economy, (2) an examination of growth in metropolitan Washington; (3) a summary of what the response has been to date in the region to address some of the concerns around growth, and (4) thoughts about how this region can begin to frame its vision and efforts for building a vibrant region.

Designing for Natural Hazards: Resilience Guides for Builders and Developers. Article provides guidance for builders and developers regarding best practices to improve climate resilience in the  design and construction of residential areas.

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Databases and Tools

Sustainable Measures. Sustainable Measures develops indicators that measure progress toward a sustainable economy, society and environment. This site offers users free training materials, a searchable database of indicators, a list of online and print resources, answers to frequently asked questions, and more.

Treelink. This Web site offers an urban forestry database, guidelines for improving urban forestry in your community, recent news, lists of urban forestry forums, and links to other Web sites.

Tools for Community Design and Decision MakingThis is an Internet-based presentation which offers information about the planning tools of the future. The tools presented on this Web site will help to diminish barriers to smart growth such as community opposition to density and the mixing of uses, outdated regulatory practices, and financing.

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Financial Assistance

Grants and Funding. Find out about financial assistance available to organizations and communities.

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