The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to help an estimated 125 local, state, and tribal governments create more housing choices, make transportation more efficient and reliable and support vibrant and healthy neighborhoods that attract businesses. The move comes in response to the high demand for tools to foster environmentally and economically sustainable development coming from various communities around the nation.
“EPA is working to support communities in their efforts to protect health and the environment, and create more sustainable housing and transportation choices that are the foundation for a strong economy,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “EPA experts will work side by side with urban, suburban, and rural communities, and help them develop the necessary tools for fostering healthier environments for families and children, and attractive places for growing businesses.”
EPA’s commitment of more than $1.5 million will come through two separate programs – the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program (SGIA) and the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. Both programs will be accepting letters from interested communities from Sept. 28 to Oct. 28, 2011.
The SGIA program, which EPA has offered since 2005, employs contractor assistance to focus on complex and cutting-edge issues in sustainable development. The assistance allows communities to explore innovative ideas to overcome barriers that have prevented them from getting the kind of development they want. Potential topics include helping communities figure out how to develop in ways that make them more resilient to natural hazards, increase economic growth, and use locally generated energy. The Agency anticipates selecting three to four communities for assistance with the goal of creating models that can help other communities.
The Building Blocks program provides targeted technical assistance to communities that face common development problems. It employs a variety of tools such as improving pedestrian access and safety, zoning code reviews, and housing and transportation evaluations. Assistance will be provided in two ways in the coming year. First, EPA will select up to 50 communities and provide direct assistance by EPA staff and private sector experts. Second, EPA has awarded cooperative agreements to four non-government organizations with sustainable community expertise to deliver technical assistance. The organizations include the Cascade Land Conservancy, Global Green USA, Project for Public Spaces, and Smart Growth America.
The Building Blocks and the SGIA programs assist in the work of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. These agencies share a common goal of coordinating federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services to get better results for communities and use taxpayer money more efficiently.
More information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities: http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov
More information on the Building Blocks program and the request for letters of interest: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/buildingblocks.htm
More information on the SGIA program and the request for letters of interest: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/sgia.htm