Smart growth development is based on principles that contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment, create jobs and business opportunities to strengthen the economy, and expand a neighborhood’s housing and transportation options. The EPA created the Self-Management Assessment and Resource Tool (S.M.A.R.T) as part of its Aging Initiative to aid communities in assessing their application of Smart Growth principles. This 20-item toolkit includes criteria for Smart Growth development and links to a myriad of resources and case studies that are useful for community planning.
As the older adult population continues to expand to an estimated 72 million by 2030, the demand for healthier, more accessible communities that allow for active aging will too grow. Developing a comprehensive plan that features Smart Growth principles is an effective way to ensure our communities are built with all citizens in mind, regardless of age or ability. Taking strategic actions, large or small, to implement Smart Growth principles can have substantial impact on the sustainability of a community.
Actions that will guide Smart Growth missions for communities across the U.S. include accommodating pedestrians by establishing walkable neighborhoods, providing a variety of housing options and retail uses in town centers preserving open space, creating neighborhoods with a distinct sense of place, developing a range of accessible transportation options, and encouraging collaboration among all community stakeholders on development decisions.
Other toolkit highlights include:
- Dunedin, Florida – Communities for a Lifetime (CFL) Initiative – this program provides guidance to communities in Dunedin that are committed to creating a better environment for older adults. The program seeks to improve the city’s accessibility including walkability and transportation options, increase intergenerational activities, and offer new opportunities for inclusion in community activities for older adults. More information on Dunedin’s CFL Initiative can be found here: http://www.communitiesforalifetime.org/
- Atlanta, Georgia – Community Choices – this program is focused on reshaping and improving the built environment in Atlanta through the use of Smart Growth techniques. The Community Choices Toolkit, one component of the program, offers an online resource center to provide community leaders and planners with resources to promote Smart Growth development. More information on Atlanta’s aging resources can be found here: http://www.atlantaregional.com/aging-resources/
- Portage County, Wisconsin – Rural Planning Vision – Portage, County created a plan for what the rural community will look like in the year 2020. The plan addresses issues such as population growth, aging populations, demands on natural resources, and the changing nature of an agriculture economy. Visit Portage County’s webpage to see how the community is working toward Smart Growth development: http://portage.uwex.edu/
How to Use
This toolkit can be used by community and neighborhood planners, local officials, policymakers, and community leaders to gain an understanding of Smart Growth principles and how they can apply such principles to their own community growth plans. The case studies should be explored further to see how other communities across the country are embracing Smart Growth strategies and establishing programs that will accommodate the needs of their aging populations. This toolkit is an excellent resource for communities looking to implement Smart Growth techniques in their community development plans.
View Web site: Self-Management Assessment and Resource Tool (S.M.A.R.T.)