EPA Provides Tools for Sustainable Communities

Smart growth policies can help achieve environmental justice goals

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a first-of-its kind report showing how low-income, minority and tribal communities can apply smart growth land use and development strategies to create healthy communities, spur economic growth and protect the environment.

The Creating Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Communities report describes how low-income, minority, and tribal communities can employ smart growth strategies to clean up and reinvest in existing neighborhoods; provide affordable housing and transportation; and improve access to jobs, parks and stores. The report also provides smart growth practitioners with concrete ideas on how they can better meet the needs of low-income residents as they promote development or redevelopment in underserved communities.

“The way communities are designed and built has an important influence on public health, the quality of our air and water, and economic vitality,” said Michael Goo, associate administrator for EPA’s Office of Policy. “EPA hopes this report will help smart growth and environmental justice advocates work together more effectively to achieve the best results possible for communities.”

“Historically, environmental justice and smart growth have been viewed as separate interests, yet communities across the U.S. are showing that they are actually complementary,” said Lisa Garcia, associate assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. “Combining these principles and focusing on equitable development can help community-based organizations, local planners, and other stakeholders achieve healthy and sustainable communities for all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status.”

The report also features case studies on seven communities across the country that have used the strategies described in the report. These strategies include:

•    designing safe streets for all users
•    cleaning and reusing contaminated properties
•    reducing exposure to facilities with potential environmental concerns
•    fixing existing infrastructure before investing in new projects
•    preserving affordable housing

The Creating Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Communities report was developed by EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and Office of Sustainable Communities.

More information about the report: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/equitable_development_report.htm

More information about the Office of Environmental Justice: http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice

More information about the Office of Sustainable Communities:  http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth