Smart Growth



Growth and development affects every aspect of our lives - where we work, how long it takes to get to there, where our children go to school, where we buy our groceries, where we find cultural and recreational opportunities, cost of transportation and housing, and so on. Development has a profound effect on transportation, access to recreation and job opportunities, health, taxes, walkability, community character, and the environment.

Smart Growth can be called by many different names (sustainable development, green development, etc.) but it is ultimately about creating better outcomes from growth and development - outcomes that enhance our quality of life and economy, while sustaining the natural environment.

"Smart growth is development that revitalizes neighborhoods, protects farmland and open space, keeps housing affordable, and provides more transportation choices. It is development that is good for the economy, community, public health and the environment." It's about where and how you grow.

There are ten general principles of smart growth (see "What Is Smart Growth?" for more information)

  1. Mixed Land Uses
  2. Compact Building Design
  3. Range of Housing Choices
  4. Walkable Neighborhoods
  5. Distinctive and Attractive Places
  6. Preserve Open Spaces and Farmland
  7. Development in Existing Communities
  8. Transportation Choices
  9. Predictable and Fair Decision Making
  10. Community and Stakeholder Participation

Management Questions

The use of social science can assist in implementing these alternative development approaches by helping planners, elected officials, and coastal resource managers identify the following:

  • Public attitudes and perceptions regarding current growth patterns
  • Public attitudes and perceptions regarding desired growth patterns
  • Public attitudes and perceptions regarding proposed smart growth policies and regulations
  • Current and future community characteristics (demographics, housing, economic development, etc.)
  • Key players in the planning and development decision-making process
  • Economic implications of alternative development scenarios

Organizations, Programs, and Conferences

NOAA Coastal Services Center's "Coastal Community Planning & Development" Training
This is an introductory, two-day course that will actively engage participants in learning about alternatives to how and where growth will occur in their communities. It will provide them with the background, examples, and strategies to support alternative development efforts in coastal communities.

Smart Growth Network Website (
This website contains a vast array of smart growth resources from Network partners, including links to free e-newsletters, fact sheets, presentations, reports, websites, and more. The information is well-organized and can be searched according to topic area, specific resource (powerpoint, case study, etc.), or geographic area.

The Smart Growth Network is a partnership of federal government entities, environmental groups, historic preservation organizations, professional organizations, developers, real estate interests, and local and state government entities, and was formed to raise public awareness about alternative growth strategies, promote best practices, and share information, innovative tools, policies, and regulations.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Smart Growth Office
This site provides new and upcoming publications from the EPA and its partners, funding opportunities, and general smart growth information, including fact sheets, case studies, tools, and information about on-line workshops.

Smart Growth America
This site offers publications, links to other organizations, and a weekly e-mail newsletter, as well as the Smart Growth Leadership Institute. Several projects include the National Vacant Properties Campaign, Measuring Sprawl and It's Impact, Measuring Health Effects of Sprawl.

American Planning Association
The American Planning Association website offers publications and information on planning in general but also contains a Smart Growth Reader. In this section of the site, you can find a collection of smart growth publications divided into several sections, including definitions and critiques, tools, environment and open space, legal issues, center cities, suburban and regional issues, and small towns and rural areas.

Related Topics