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About Smart Growth


Development decisions affect many of the things that touch people's everyday lives - their homes, their health, the schools their children attend, the taxes they pay, their daily commute, the natural environment around them, economic growth in their community, and opportunities to achieve their dreams and goals. What, where, and how communities build will affect their residents' lives for generations to come.

Communities across the country are using creative strategies to develop in ways that preserve natural lands and critical environmental areas, protect water and air quality, and reuse already-developed land. They conserve resources by reinvesting in existing infrastructure and reclaiming historic buildings. By designing neighborhoods that have shops, offices, schools, churches, parks, and other amenities near homes, communities are giving their residents and visitors the option of walking, bicycling, taking public transportation, or driving as they go about their business. A range of different types of homes makes it possible for senior citizens to stay in their homes as they age, young people to afford their first home, and families at all stages in between to find a safe, attractive home they can afford. Through smart growth approaches that enhance neighborhoods and involve local residents in development decisions, these communities are creating vibrant places to live, work, and play. The high quality of life in these communities makes them economically competitive, creates business opportunities, and improves the local tax base.

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Smart Growth Principles

Based on the experience of communities around the nation that have used smart growth approaches to create and maintain great neighborhoods, the Smart Growth Network developed a set of ten basic principles:
  1. Mix land uses
  2. Take advantage of compact building design
  3. Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
  4. Create walkable neighborhoods
  5. Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
  6. Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas
  7. Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities
  8. Provide a variety of transportation choices
  9. Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective
  10. Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions

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Resources from EPA

Environmental benefits of smart growth

Smart growth issue pages, resources, and examples of smart growth communities

Publications from EPA's smart growth program

National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. Annual award recognizing communities that use the principles of smart growth to create better places.

Smart Growth Illustrated. Shows how smart growth techniques look in communities around the country.

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Resources from Smart Growth Online

Smart Growth Online Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer. Clearinghouse of smart growth-related news, research, presentations, publications, and other resources. Supported by EPA funding.

This Is Smart Growth (2006, International City/County Management Association and Smart Growth Network). Illustrates how communities can turn their values, visions, and aspirations into reality, using smart growth techniques to improve development. Features 40 places around the country, from cities to suburbs to small towns to rural areas, that have found success by implementing smart growth principles.

Smart Growth in Action Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer. Case studies of smart growth communities and projects that offer models for other communities.

Getting to Smart Growth, Volumes I and II (2002 and 2003, International City/County Management Association and Smart Growth Network). Each volume provides 100 smart growth policy ideas, along with additional resources and brief case studies of communities that have applied these approaches to achieve better development. Both volumes have been translated into Spanish.

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