EPA helps 32 U.S. cities meet sustainability goals

A new EPA program will help 32 cities with practical planning solutions to make their communities more sustainable.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor on

Demand is high for sustainable, healthy communities. And a new program from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will help to meet that demand.

Today, the EPA announced 32 cities that will be a part of the Sustainable Communities Building Blocks program (complete list of cities). Wildly popular among cities, with 354 applicants, the program will work with the communities and give them tools and resources to help them meet their sustainability goals.

The EPA will assist the 32 cities with a variety of sustainable planning initiatives. And what's great about these solutions is that they won't take years to develop, or require billions of dollars. Many of the barriers to implementing these sustainable practices only require updating codes or simply rethinking how money is being invested -- i.e. a complete street instead of a highway. These are practical ways cities can begin moving towards sustainability. The initiatives include:

  • Walkability audits: Assess the ability for pedestrians to move through the city safely and efficiently. Helps cities develop short and long-term plans for sidewalks and streets.
  • Sustainable land use code audits: Helps cities remove barriers to sustainability goalsby evaluating land use codes.
  • Smart growth zoning codes for small cities and rural areas: Gives small cities and rural areas suggestions to improve zoning codes.
  • Smart growth to create fiscal and economic health: Helps cities get more economic benefits from their development and investments through smart growth principles.
  • Complete streets: Teaches these cities how to draft policies and changes that make their streets more accommodating to all forms of transportation -- not just the car.
  • Water quality scorecard: Helps cities come up with innovative solutions to improve water quality, along with looking for barriers in codes and ordinances that affect water quality.
  • Essential fixes for smart growth for urban/suburban zoning codes: Identifies code changes that can help cities develop in a more sustainable way.

“The public-private partnerships in the Building Blocks program give communities new and proven tools to maximize the health and economic benefits of brownfields revitalization,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This is another great example of how a targeted investment in protecting public health can create jobs and strengthen the economic future of our communities.”

Photo: csnider24/Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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