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Tools and Key Resources for Sustainable Communities


One of the goals of the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities is to help communities develop and support neighborhoods that provide transportation choices and affordable housing while increasing economic competitiveness and directing resources toward places with existing infrastructure. To help support these communities, EPA has compiled this list of useful tools and key resources. This page will be periodically updated. More resources from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and EPA, including grant programs, are listed in Leveraging the Partnership: DOT, HUD, and EPA Programs for Sustainable Communities (PDF) (16 pp, 2.2MB, About PDF). Federal resources specifically for rural communities are discussed in Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities (PDF) (52 pp, 2.8MB, About PDF), a report from HUD, DOT, EPA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that presents sample funding and technical assistance opportunities and performance measures rural communities can use.

Tools for Sustainable Communities

Climate Change

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculator for Individuals
This calculator can help communities educate residents about their personal greenhouse gas emissions, which can help support community-wide efforts to reduce climate impacts.

Clean Energy Resources Database
This searchable database describes key resources and documents relevant to the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, which addresses: evaluation, measurement, and verification; energy efficiency potential studies; cost effectiveness; program design and implementation; dynamic rates; resource planning; cost recovery and incentives; and codes and standards. The database also includes information on funding and incentives, emissions trading, state management best practices, air quality, clean energy supply, local government, and portfolio standards.

Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse
The Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse (TCCC) web site replaces the DOT Center for Climate Change and Environmental Forecasting web site. In addition to new resources and content, the TCCC includes information from the previous site, as well as information about the center and its activities. DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration maintains the clearinghouse.

Playbook for Green Buildings + Neighborhoods Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
Developed by a consortium of more than 20 local governments, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and utilities, the playbook provides strategies, tips, and tools that cities and counties can use to take immediate action on climate change through green buildings, green neighborhoods, and sustainable infrastructure.

EPA's State and Local Climate and Energy Program
Provides technical assistance, analytical tools, and outreach support to state, local, and tribal governments. The program helps identify cost-effective policies and initiatives that address climate change, by promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, and related clean technologies; measures and evaluates the environmental, economic, and public health benefits of climate change and clean energy initiatives; offers tools, guidance, and outreach support for assessing the options and benefits of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and fosters peer exchange opportunities for state and local officials to share information on best practices and lessons learned about innovative policies and programs.

Smart Growth and Climate Change
This page describes how smart growth and climate change intersect in two main areas: mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions from development) and adaptation (making communities more resilient to the effects of a changing climate).

EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality Offers information on greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources, including information about relevant EPA regulations and what you can do to reduce your transportation emissions.

EPA's Green Power Partnership
The Green Power Partnership is a national voluntary program that supports the organizational procurement of green power by offering expert advice, technical support, tools, and resources. Partnering with EPA can help your organization or community lower the transaction costs of buying green power, reduce its carbon footprint, and communicate its leadership to key stakeholders. Green power is electricity produced from a subset of renewable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and low-impact hydro.

Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Analysis Tools Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
The Washington State Department of Commerce analyzed eight modeling, GIS-based, and spreadsheet tools that can help communities assess the transportation-related greenhouse gas impacts of development, from the site level to the regional level. While the analysis is based on Washington communities, the results can be useful for other places around the country, as the report describes these tools in detail and provides guidance to help communities choose the tool that will work best for their circumstances.

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Codes, Ordinances, and Land Development Regulations

Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Rural Planning, Zoning, and Development Codes
Policy options that can help rural communities strengthen their economies while preserving rural character.

Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes
A toolbox of the most relevant zoning changes that communities can make to their zoning codes and regulations based on common issues and themes confronting urban and suburban governments.

Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
A set of tools to help your community grow smarter, including a quick diagnostic of existing conditions, a policy audit, a code audit, an audit summary mechanism, and a project scorecard to assess potential updates.

Smart Growth Scorecards
A collection of 18 scorecards that help communities assess their existing policies, current development patterns, and proposed development projects based on smart growth principles.

Examples of Codes that Support Smart Growth Development
Provides a sampling of effective, smart growth-supportive codes that could be used as models for communities trying to update their zoning. These examples include unified development codes, form-based codes, transit-oriented development, design guidelines, street design standards, and zoning overlays.

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Environmental Justice

EPA's Office of Environmental Justice
OEJ works to ensure the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. The office has numerous resources, including grants, to help communities work toward the goal of ensuring that everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

Equitable Development Toolkit Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
This toolkit introduces 28 tools that can help communities and regions begin to reverse patterns of segregation and disinvestment, prevent displacement, and promote equitable revitalization.

National Environmental Justice Resource Center Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
This web site compiles news, resources, and research on environmental justice and related issues.

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Funding Resources

National Funding Opportunities
Smart growth and sustainable communities-related funding opportunities from federal agencies, as well as links to national directories of funding sources.

Regional, State, and Local Funding Opportunities
Smart growth and sustainable communities-related funding opportunities from state governments and other entities.

Leveraging the Partnership: DOT, HUD, and EPA Programs for Sustainable Communities (PDF) (16 pp, 1.6MB, About PDF)
Lists grant programs from DOT, HUD, and EPA that can help communities build and support sustainable communities.

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Green Building

EPA's Green Building Program
The hub for EPA's green building activities, with links to resources to help communities find healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition.

Green Homes
Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, in the market for a new home, or making home improvements, this web site identifies key environmental and energy issues and suggests solutions that will add value to your home, reduce energy use and energy costs, fight climate change, and help protect your health.

Energy Star
Energy Star is a joint program of EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. This site offers resources for homes and businesses.

Sustainable Design and Green Building Toolkit for Local Governments (PDF) (92 pp, 15 MB)
EPA Region 4 developed this toolkit in response to local governments' requests for assistance to help them identify and remove barriers to sustainable design and green building in their permitting processes. The toolkit addresses the local codes of ordinances that affect the design, construction, renovation, and operation and maintenance of a building and its immediate site. It contains an assessment tool, a resource guide, and a guide to developing an action plan for implementing changes to the permitting process. It can also be used by members of the development community, local government "green teams," and other building professionals.

U.S. Green Building Council Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
USGBC certifies green buildings and neighborhoods under the LEED rating systems. LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) integrates the principles of smart growth and green building into the first national rating system for neighborhood design.

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Affordable Housing Design Advisor Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
A tool, resource, idea bank, and step-by-step guide to good design in affordable housing. Includes checklists, case studies, and other tools to get attractive, high-quality, affordable housing.

Developing Housing for the Workforce — A Toolkit Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
This tool includes case studies and examples of financially feasible, for-profit developments and features a section on public and private programs that are being used to encourage the development of workforce housing.

Housing and Transportation Affordability Index Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
A tool that calculates the true cost of housing by measuring the transportation costs associated with the housing location.

Walk Score Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address by noting its distance from nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, and other amenities.

Smart Growth and Affordable Housing
Resources and a discussion of how a smart growth approach to affordable housing—compact in nature, green in design and construction, and transit-rich in options—can help communities and their residents be better stewards of the environment and achieve more affordable, livable communities.

Smart Growth Guidelines for Sustainable Design and Development
This resource helps communities that seek to locate, design, and develop housing — particularly affordable housing — in a way that reduces household costs, improves residents' quality of life, and invests public resources more sustainably. The guidelines can serve as a checklist for local officials, state or regional policy makers, developers, and community members to ensure that programs, plans, and proposed developments incorporate the elements needed at the location, site, and building levels to result in more sustainable, affordable housing. The guidelines are organized under three central strategies: 1) Identifying prosperous smart growth locations; 2) Creating "place" through neighborhood design; and 3) Employing green building and infrastructure techniques.

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Land Reuse and Revitalization

Brownfields Remediation and Redevelopment
EPA has a variety of programs to help eligible entities assess, remediate, and restore brownfields sites to productive use and revitalize affected neighborhoods. This site links to grants, success stories, and other resources for communities.

Center for Community Progress Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
The NVPC provides information resources, tools, and assistance to support vacant property revitalization efforts.

Cleanups in My Community
This mapping tool makes it possible to identify properties throughout the U.S. that have been contaminated by hazardous materials and that have been cleaned up under EPA's Superfund, RCRA, and/or brownfields clean-up programs.

SMARTe (Sustainable Management Approaches and Revitalization Tools – electronic) Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
SMARTe is a free web-based tool that contains resources and analysis tools for all aspects of the revitalization process including planning, environmental, economic, and social concerns. The goal of SMARTe is to help users overcome obstacles to revitalization such as absence of vision, lack of funding, or fear of liability.

TransformNation Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
This web site compiles case studies of successful community efforts to revitalize and redevelop abandoned and vacant properties.

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PlaceMatters Tools Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
Database of tools and processes for better community design and decision-making.

Successful Communities Online Toolkit information exchange (SCOTie) Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
Database of smart growth policies and case studies from communities in Western states.

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Sustainable Materials Management

Municipal Government Toolkit
EPA Region 4 developed this resource guide to help state and local governments create successful recycling programs. Topics covered include starting and improving recycling programs and the benefits recycling programs can create for the economy, climate change, and community development.

Materials Reuse
Resources for communities to promote reuse of materials rather than disposing of them or recycling them. Information includes material exchanges, guides for donations, and building material reuse stores.

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Context Sensitive Solutions Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
Context-sensitive solutions involve all stakeholders in a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to develop transportation facilities that fit their physical settings and preserve scenic, aesthetic, historic, and environmental resources, while maintaining safety and mobility.

Rural Transport Toolbox
The Transportation Toolbox for Rural Areas and Small Communities was designed to assist public and private stakeholders in planning, developing, and improving rural areas and small communities, especially through transportation and related projects.

Tool Kit for Integrating Land Use and Transportation Decision-Making
A user-friendly source of methods, strategies, and procedures for integrating land use and transportation planning, decision-making, and project implementation. Thirty tools, including CommunityViz, PLACE3S, and Paint the Town are included, along with implementation examples and additional information.

Transit Savings Calculator Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
The American Public Transportation Association offers a calculator that can help you compare the cost of using public transportation with the price of gas and parking.

TravelMatters Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
This site offers interactive emissions calculators, emissions maps, and a wealth of educational content to show how more efficient transit systems can lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Transportation and Climate
Information on greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources, including information about transportation's contribution to total GHG emissions, relevant EPA regulations, and what you can do to reduce your transportation emissions.

EPA's Resources on Smart Growth and Transportation
Describes transportation and land use strategies that enhance quality of life and protect human health and the environment.

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Water Quality Scorecard
This scorecard was developed to help local governments identify opportunities to remove barriers and revise and create codes, ordinances, and incentives to better protect water quality. It guides municipal staff through a review of relevant local codes and ordinances across multiple municipal departments to ensure that these codes work together to support a green infrastructure approach.

Green Infrastructure
Documents and resources to help communities understand and implement green infrastructure, an approach to wet weather management that is cost effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly.

Green Values Stormwater Toolbox Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
Provides an overview of how the Great Lakes landscape works and describes methods to minimize stormwater runoff without expensive infrastructure projects.

Residential Low-Impact Development Tools
EPA Watershed Academy-sponsored tools for street design, lot layout and design, site planning, and guidance.

Sustainable Infrastructure for Water and Wastewater
In many parts of the nation, sewer and drinking water infrastructure is aging, and EPA is promoting sustainable practices that will help to address the funding needed to rehabilitate and replace these facilities. This site offers information on best practices for project and asset management, full cost pricing, water efficiency, and watershed approaches.

Publications and resources on smart growth and water issues

Watershed Academy
Offers a variety of self-paced training modules for a basic and broad introduction to the watershed management field.

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