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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

HUD launches Sustainable Communities Resource Center

Kaid Benfield

Posted February 16, 2012 in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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  an image from HUD's Sustainable Communities Resource Center

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has created an important online resource for professionals and citizens interested in improving America’s metro regions, cities, and neighborhoods.  It looks very promising to me, especially as a sort of living compendium of best practices.

In its description, the agency’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities describes the site’s purpose:

“America’s communities are developing strategies to help ensure their economic, environmental and social well-being. A sustainable community is an urban, rural, or suburban community that has a vibrant local economy, more housing and transportation choices, is closer to jobs, schools and shops, is more energy independent, and helps protect clean air and water.

“Because every community is different and sustainability encompasses a range of needs and opportunities, there is no ‘one size fits all’ model. Rather, sustainability uses a bottom-up approach and a range of strategies in response to the needs, assets, and visions that each community brings to the table.
What all of these communities have in common are coordinated, well-thought-out approaches to leveraging investments that attract jobs, save taxpayer money, offer more energy-efficient housing and transportation choices and that balance economic and natural assets to meet both the current and future needs of all Americans.

“The Sustainable Communities Resource Center is intended to provide the public with a comprehensive set of information that supports local and regional strategies, with a particular emphasis on sustainable housing and planning. The Resource Center provides ready access to best practices, cutting edge research, new reports and resources, and spotlights innovation in the field.”

                the front page of HUD's Sustainable Communities Resource Center

Today, the home page provides links to stories on exemplary developments in three California cities; a column of “sustainability news” links (I am flattered that one of my posts is included); a link through which users can subscribe to the Office’s eNews service; and subject-matter highlight stories on Walk Score, energy efficiency in multifamily rental housing, and on housing affordability when transportation costs are considered.  There are also what appears to be standing links to information on six key categories:  rural, tribal and small-town sustainability; economic competitiveness; regional planning; green building; healthy communities; and housing and transportation choice. 

And there’s even more, but the design of the site is clean and uncluttered.  When Shelley Poticha was tapped by HUD secretary Shaun Donovan to lead the agency’s sustainability efforts, I wrote that the agency had done really well to get her.  Shelley and her wonderful staff just keep proving me right.

Move your cursor over the images for credit information.

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page.  Please also visit NRDC’s Sustainable Communities Video Channel.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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