Smart growth policies protect health and the environment, strengthen local economies

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today recognized five communities with the 2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. Through this award, EPA acknowledges and supports communities that use innovative policies and strategies to strengthen their economies, provide sustainable housing and transportation choices and protect the environment. The award winners show how communities of any size can use smart growth to become dynamic places to live, work, and play.

Smart growth policies include improving transportation choices to include walking, bicycling and public transit, promoting the safe redevelopment of potentially contaminated areas in local neighborhoods and reducing polluted stormwater runoff into area rivers and streams. These practices help protect Americans’ health and the environment while strengthening local economies.

“Smart growth is a crucial strategy for tackling the environmental and economic challenges we face in the 21st century, and the communities we’re recognizing this year are leading the way with their successes,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “By bringing together traditional ideas, innovative technology and commonsense planning, these communities are giving residents and businesses places that are healthier, safer and more economically and environmentally sustainable.”

The 2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement recognized communities in five categories:

Overall Excellence
Old North St. Louis Revitalization Initiative, St. Louis, Mo.
Community leaders redefined and rebuilt the historic neighborhood of Old North to attract new residents and economic growth while maintaining its distinctive character.

Smart Growth and Green Building
Silver Gardens Apartments, Albuquerque, N.M.
This LEED Platinum-certified apartment building puts affordable homes with innovative green design near reliable transportation options, helping low-income residents save money on energy, transportation, and housing.

Programs, Policies, and Regulations
Plan El Paso 2010, El Paso, Texas
El Paso’s development plan will create new transportation options that link neighborhoods to greater economic opportunity and to one another, encouraging growth that can bring new homes and jobs.

Rural Smart Growth
Maroney Commons, Howard, S.D.
This small town revitalized its downtown with a green building that houses training for green energy and rural health care jobs and models innovative environmental approaches that can spur economic development.

Civic Places
Uptown Normal Roundabout, Normal, Ill.
Originally designed to manage traffic, the Uptown Normal Roundabout has evolved into a civic gathering place that increases business for local stores.

This year’s winners were selected from a pool of 68 applicants from 27 states. The winning entries were selected based on their effectiveness in creating sustainable communities; creating a robust public involvement process; generating partnerships among public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders; and serving as national models.

EPA created the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in 2002 to recognize exceptional approaches to development that protect the environment, foster economic vitality, and enhance quality of life. In the past 10 years, 47 winners from 24 states have shown the variety of approaches that states, regions, cities, suburbs, and small towns can use to create economically vibrant and environmentally responsible development. EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities (OSC) manages the award program. OSC helps America’s communities turn their visions of the future into reality through research, tools, partnerships, case studies, grants, and technical assistance.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency · 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW · Washington DC 20460 · 202-564-4355

More information on the winners:

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