Creating Equitable, Healthy, And Sustainable Communities: Strategies For Advancing Smart Growth, Environmental Justice, And Equitable Development

Communities across the country are integrating smart growth, environmental justice, and equitable development approaches to design and build healthy, sustainable, and inclusive neighborhoods.  These diverse communities and many others are finding that environmental justice, smart growth, and equitable development can be an effective combination for promoting a clean and safe environment, a strong economy, and good quality of life for all residents. Overburdened communities are using smart growth strategies to address long-standing environmental and health challenges and create new opportunities where they live. Regional and local planners are engaging low-income, minority, and tribal residents in decision-making and producing more enduring development that is better for people and the environment. Community groups, government agencies, and private and nonprofit partners are cleaning up and investing in existing neighborhoods, providing affordable housing and transportation options, and improving access to critical services and amenities.

This report aims to build on past successes and offer low-income, minority, tribal, and overburdened communities approaches to shape development that responds to their needs and reflects their values. It provides a menu of land use and community design strategies that bring together smart growth, environmental justice, and equitable development principles and that community-based organizations, local and regional decision-makers, developers, and others can use to revitalize their communities. The publication provides a brief introduction to each strategy and examples of how it has been used. Strategies are grouped under seven common elements that connect environmental justice, smart growth, and equitable development: 

  • Facilitate Meaningful Community Engagement in Planning and Land Use Decisions
  • Promote Public Health and a Clean and Safe Environment
  • Strengthen Existing Communities
  • Provide Housing Choices
  • Provide Transportation Options
  • Improve Access to Opportunities and Daily Necessities
  • Preserve and Build on the Features That Make a Community Distinctive

This report was developed jointly by US EPA's Office of Environmental Justice and Office of Sustainable Communities.  It was also informed by comments from 40 reviewers received through a public comment process. 


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