EPA recognizes seven communities with National Award for Smart Growth Achievement

Atlanta BeltlineThe Atlanta Beltline, one of this year’s award winners. Photo by Christoper T. Martin, courtesy of Atlanta Beltline.

This morning in Washington, DC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will recognize some of the best examples of smart growth projects in the country today.

The annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, established in 2002, recognizes exceptional approaches to development that respect the environment, foster economic vitality, enhance quality of life, and provide new opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

Listed below are the recipients for the awards in five categories, as well as two honorable mentions. Click the links to watch a video about each project.

  • Overall Excellence: Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail and Historic Fourth Ward Park, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., Atlanta, GA
    The redevelopment of a formerly contaminated rail corridor into a multi-use trail and connected park system is sparking economic development, community engagement, and new affordable housing options in 45 city neighborhoods.
  • Corridor or Neighborhood Revitalization: Historic Millwork District and Washington Neighborhood, Dubuque, IA
    The conversion of a mostly vacant former mill district into a lively mixed-use neighborhood reconnected the area to downtown and the adjacent residential neighborhood.
  • Policies, Programs, and Plans: GO TO 2040, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Metropolitan Chicago, IL
    This seven-county regional plan for growth and economic development engages a wide variety of partners and links local planning efforts to a broad regional vision through tools and technical assistance.
  • Built Projects: La Valentina, Sacramento, CA
    An energy-efficient, mixed-income, mixed-use apartment building on a former brownfield site next to a light-rail station is transforming an industrial neighborhood and giving residents transportation options.
  • Plazas, Parks, and Public Places: Charles City Riverfront Park, Charles City, IA
    This multi-facility park built on a flood plain connects to downtown and adjacent low-income housing, brings economic benefits, and has become the recreational heart of the city.
  • Policies, Programs, and Plans (Honorable Mention): Lower Eastside Action Plan, Detroit City Planning Commission, Detroit, MI
    This grassroots effort formed a plan for revitalization that engaged residents in creating a vision for a low-income, high-vacancy neighborhood and influenced citywide planning.
  • Built Projects (Honorable Mention): Via Verde, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, The Bronx, NY
    This affordable, transit-oriented, highly energy-efficient building features design that emphasizes health and wellness for residents

“This year’s winning projects show that smart growth approaches are having a visible impact on communities across the country—large and small, cities and suburbs, towns and rural places,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement. “They show that the choices communities make about how they develop can protect people’s health and the environment while contributing to local economic growth. Most importantly, they show other communities that the path to a sustainable future is just around the corner.”

The EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities is part of the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a collaboration between the EPA, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development created to help improve access to affordable housing, create more transportation options and lower Americans’ transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide.

If you support projects like this year’s award winners, speak out for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities today.