Smart Growth

Walkable neighborhoods are great, but did you know that trees reduce energy use by 30%, increase property values by 10%, and lower rates of ADD, asthma, and childhood obesity? So why don’t more SmartGrowth plans include trees…?


Ultimately, conservation is about empowering citizens to improve the communities where they live and work. The Alliance for Community Trees is the only national organization working to improve the urban forests where 80% of Americans live- our cities, towns, and villages. ACT’s national office assembles coalitions that drive broad environmental success for our more than 180 organizations in 41 states in the pursuit of Clean Air, Green Streets, and Healthy Neighborhoods.
Urban forestry is simply about trees in places where people live.
In communities across the nation, there is a growing concern that current development patterns are no longer in the long-term interest of our cities and suburbs. Though supportive of growth, communities are questioning the economic costs of abandoning gray and green infrastructure only to rebuild it further out.
Spurring the smart growth movement are demographic shifts, a strong environmental ethic, increased fiscal concerns, and more nuanced views of growth. The result is both a new demand and a new opportunity for smart growth.
The features that distinguish smart growth in a community vary from place to place. In general, smart growth is about design, transportation choices, economics, housing, and community quality life in health and environment. Smart growth invests time, attention, and resources to restore community and vitality to center cities and older suburbs. New smart growth is more town-centered, transit and pedestrian oriented, and has a greater mix of housing, commercial, and retail uses. It also preserves open space and many other environmental amenities.
Ten years ago, smart growth was a burgeoning concept- one that had gained footing in a few progressive places throughout the country. These days, smart growth plays an important role in communities across the nation. Smart Growth is about quality of life and the ability for all people to have access to decent livable communities. For some, this is inherent in their daily lives. For many others, especially those in the middle and lower classes, choices and options for safe and healthy living are few.
Whether the problem is the jobs/housing imbalance, increasing vehicle miles traveled, competition for localized tax base, open space preservation, or air and water quality, the importance of a regional model for smart growth planning is critical. Local governments and their neighbors need to find common ground through understanding the benefits of land use polices directed at making the regional healthier, this will in turn create more livable communities in localized neighborhoods.
Some of the Smart Growth principles and issues below describe in greater details the various aspects of planning and development that make up smart growth:

  • Create Range of Housing Opportunities and Choices
  • Create Walkable Neighborhoods
  • Encourage Community and Stakeholder Collaboration
  • Foster Distinctive, Attractive Communities with a Strong Sense of Place
  • Make Development Decisions Predictable, Fair and Cost Effective
  • Mix Land Uses
  • Provide a Variety of Transportation Choices
  • Strengthen and Direct Development Towards Existing Communities
  • At this moment, the nation wants action to secure safe and healthy communities, action that goes beyond buzzwords such as green and sustainable. Healthy urban forests are key to helping our growing cities and towns to address public health and safety concerns.
    Find Out More:
    Urban Forestry at the Forest Service
    Greener Neighborhoods are Safer Communities
    Greener Healthier Neighborhoods
    SmartGrowth and Urban Forestry Webcast
    SmartGrowth and Urban Forestry- Part II: City Planning
    Natural Capitalism: Green Partnerships with Businesses Webcast
    New Partners for Smart Growth Conference
    National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education
    EPA Smart Growth Speaker Series
    The Alliance for Community Trees is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization (EIN # 68-0319301), and also participates in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC # 12402). To discuss planned giving opportunities, call us at 301-277-0040.


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