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[ EPA Offering Sustainable Growth Assistance to Communities ]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently invited communities to apply for technical assistance to foster sustainable growth in their area. Communities that adopt sustainable growth strategies have been shown to expand economic opportunity and protect people’s health and the environment. EPA is offering assistance through the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program, which offers tools that can be applied in rural, suburban, and urban areas, including:

•    Smart growth and economic development to help communities get better financial results from public and private investments
•    Green street strategies for managing polluted stormwater
•    Land use strategies to protect water quality
•    Parking audits to make the best use of parking for existing and planned land uses
•    Bikeshare system planning to create alternative commuting options
•    Community design for aging populations to ensure residents can live at home as long as possible
•    Green building toolkit to overcome common barriers
•    Strategies to help small cities and rural areas develop in ways that retain unique community characteristics

Communities apply for assistance with one of the specific tools and, if selected, work with an EPA-supported team of experts on applying those tools during a two-day workshop. Along with the policies and practices highlighted in each tool, participants will learn more about smart growth development strategies.

EPA will select up to 44 communities through a competitive process for this latest round of assistance.  The selections will be made in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.  This interagency collaboration coordinates federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services to get better results for communities and use taxpayer money more efficiently.

Applications will be accepted through October 26.

EPA is working to make all the Building Blocks tools available online so that communities can use them on their own.  The first online tool, the Walkability Workbook, can help communities determine how smart growth changes can be beneficial.

Since the Building Blocks program launched in 2010, EPA has received requests for assistance from more than 600 communities across the country and provided assistance to 140. For example, in the Chicago area, EPA worked with three suburbs to develop strategies communities can use to better link their land use strategies with local and regional water quality goals.

More information and application instructions for the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/buildingblocks.htm

More information on the Walkability Workbook:  http://www.walklive.org/project/walkability-workbook/

More information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities:  http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/partnership/index.html

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