Tools and Key Resources

One of the goals of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities is to help communities develop and support neighborhoods that provide transportation choices and affordable housing while increasing economic competitiveness and directing resources toward places with existing infrastructure.

To help support these communities, the Partnership agencies compiled this list of useful tools and key resources. All of the resources here have been developed by or sponsored by Partnership agencies. Click on the categories in the sidebar on the right to access these materials.

Partnership Publications

General Partnership Materials

Overview of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities (2010) (PDF 1p 147.94KB)
A short fact sheet on the formation of the Partnership, livability principles, and goals.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities: Supporting Environmental Justice and Equitable Development (2010) (PDF 4p 665.68KB)
Describes how the Partnership for Sustainable Communities is working to help communities become more equitable and more sustainable for all residents.

Interagency Partnership Agreement (2009) (PDF 2p 51KB)
Outlines the goals and strategies for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

Accomplishments Reports

Pacific Southwest Region Accomplishments Report, (2013) (PDF 23p 3.84MB)
The Partnership agencies in the Pacific Southwest Region developed this report to highlight the hard work and successes of communities in the region. The efforts by community leaders, transportation agencies, and housing advocates offer best practices for comprehensive land use and transportation planning that advances economic growth and meets environmental and health goals.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities: Three Years of Helping Communities Achieve Their Visions for Growth and Prosperity (2012) (PDF 20p 4.27MB)
This report describes accomplishments of the Partnership and the communities it serves on its third anniversary.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities: A Year of Progress for American Communities (2010) (PDF 16p 1.84MB)
Report on the Partnership’s first year, highlighting key initiatives and community profiles.

Partnership in Action

Periodic updates on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities work.

Resources for Communities

Federal Capacity Building and Training Opportunities (2013) (PDF 9p 143KB) is a list of training and technical assistance programs available to communities on a variety of Partnership-related topics.

Leveraging the Partnership: DOT, HUD, and EPA Programs for Sustainable Communities (2013) (PDF 16p 1.91MB) 
Guide to help communities identify federal resources that can support their efforts to promote more sustainable communities.

Federal Resources for Sustainable Rural Communities (2012) (PDF 44p 6MB) is a guide to programs from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that rural communities can use to promote economic competitiveness, protect healthy environments, and enhance quality of life.

Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities (2011) (PDF 52p 3MB)
Produced by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities and USDA, this report features case studies showcasing rural accomplishments, sample funding and technical assistance opportunities, and performance measures rural communities can use to assess their progress.

Federal Barriers to Local Housing and Transportation Coordination (2011) (PDF 285KB) 
This report includes a synopsis of the history of barriers to local coordination of housing and transportation resulting from HUD and DOT statutes and regulations, a summary of efforts to date to identify barriers within each agency’s programs, and a description of efforts underway to address these barriers.

Economic Development & Brownfields Redevelopment

Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions 2012
This EPA report finds that nearly three out of four large metropolitan regions saw an increased share of new housing development in previously developed areas during 2005-2009 compared to 2000-2004. Known as infill housing, this type of development provides economic and public health benefits to metropolitan areas while protecting the local environment. Infill housing has also been shown to help raise property values, increase a community’s tax base, and attract retail businesses to serve the larger residential population.

Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program
This EPA website links to grants, success stories, and other resources for communities maintained by EPA. It features Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Project Fact Sheets and Project Websites as well.

Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Coordination Webinars
These informal webinars highlight programs from Federal agencies that can help communities implement their community revitalization and redevelopment projects. The sessions can enable
communities to become more familiar with how Federal agencies operate locally and how their resources may be accessed/used. 

Restructuring the Commercial Strip: A Practical Guide for Planning the Revitalization of Deteriorating Strip Corridors
A guide to coordinating public and private investments and essential planning and design strategies to create a multimodal transportation system and thriving neighborhoods.

Connecting Smart Growth and Brownfields Redevelopment (PDF 24p 725.46KB)
Examines planning strategies, financing options, and institutional practices that can help promote brownfield redevelopment.

SMARTe (Sustainable Management Approaches and Revitalization Tools – electronic) (Exit Disclaimer)
SMARTe is a free web-based tool that contains resources and analysis tools for all aspects of the revitalization process including planning, environmental, economic, and social concerns.

Smart Growth: The Business Opportunity for Developers and Production Builders
A set of white papers that discuss the demand for smart growth development, how to market it, and the cost efficiencies of building it.

Economic Development and Smart Growth (PDF 50p 3.07MB)
Highlights the connections between smart growth and economic outcomes such as job growth, occupancy rates, tax base, and private investment. Uses detailed case studies to illustrate economic outcomes in places that have incorporated smart growth development strategies.

Smart Growth is Smart Business (Exit Disclaimer)
National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals and Smart Growth Leadership Institute identify successful companies that promote smart growth and bring vitality and prosperity to their communities.

Restructuring the Commercial Strip: A Practical Guide for Planning the Revitalization of Deteriorating Strip Corridors
Provides guidance on coordination of public and private investments and essential planning and design strategies necessary to create a multimodal transportation system and thriving neighborhoods.

Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions: Recovering a Community's Hidden Assets (PDF 86p 2.84MB)
A useful compendium of tips, procedures, and other information to assist those interested in brownfields redevelopment, including identifying properties, land use considerations by the buyer, placing properties under contract, the due diligence process, managing environmental liabilities, final approval on zoning and land use, and closing on the contract and financing.

Performance Measures/Data

Smart Location Database
This is a consistent nationwide GIS data resource for measuring location efficiency. It includes over 90 variables characterizing the built environment, transit service, destination accessibility, employment, and demographics at the census block group scale. Users can download data for their selected region, view data online in an interactive map, or access the data through a variety of web services.

Sustainable Communities Census Hot Report
This database gives community leaders and residents a quick and easy way to determine how well a community is performing on a variety of sustainability indicators. The HotReport includes indicators for Transportation, Housing, Economic development, Income and Equity using data from the US Census Bureau. You can select your community and view charts, tables, and maps showing performance trends over time. You can also select other communities that you consider as "peer" or comparison communities.

Guide to Sustainable Transportation Performance Measures
This guidebook, the outgrowth of a Smart Growth Implementation Assistance project assisting the California Department of Transportation, describes opportunities for transportation agencies to incorporate environmental, economic, and social sustainability into decision-making through the use of performance measures.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics Livability Program
The Livability Program page lists numerous data sources to help policy makers and transportation planners assess and evaluate transportation’s role in creating livable communities.

Community Planning and Development Performance Measurement
HUD publishes collected data on the outcomes of activities funded by its Formula Grant Assistance programs.

Smart Mobility 2010: A Call to Action for the New Decade (PDF 132p 15.44MB)
The Smart Mobility Framework emphasizes measures to improve travel choices, build healthy, livable communities, increase reliable travel times for people and freight, and safety for all users. It was developed in California with support from EPA and DOT.

Transit Performance Measurement website
A site maintained by the Federal Transit Administration describing effective and implementable measures.

Performance-Based Transit-Oriented Development Typology Guidebook (Exit Disclaimer)
Developed by the Center for Transit Oriented Development, with support from DOT, this guidebook is a hands-on tool for identifying the different conditions that exist around transit stations and determining how that influences performance on a range of metrics.

Highway Performance Measurement
This Federal Highway Administration website includes a description of transportation performance measures, key steps in their development, and major issues and examples.

Rural Communities

Federal Resources for Sustainable Rural Communities (PDF 44p 6MB) is a guide to programs from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that rural communities can use to promote economic competitiveness, protect healthy environments, and enhance quality of life.

Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities (PDF 52p 3MB)
Produced by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities and USDA, this report features case studies showcasing rural accomplishments, sample funding and technical assistance opportunities, and performance measures rural communities can use to assess their progress.

Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities
Focuses on smart growth strategies that can help guide growth in rural areas while protecting natural and working lands and preserving the rural character of existing communities.

US Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program
Provides resources, tools, and programs to assist communities with improving the economy and quality of life in rural America.

US Department of Agriculture Atlas of Rural and Small Town America
An interactive data tool to view statistics on people, jobs, and agriculture in your community. 

Rural Transportation Planning Resources
This site provides links to a wide variety of information resources to support transportation planning efforts in communities and areas outside those regions covered by Metropolitan Planning Organizations.

Rural Transportation Toolbox
Designed to assist public and private stakeholders in planning, developing, and improving rural areas and small communities, especially through transportation and related projects.

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) Compass
The USDA Compass is an online multi-media narrative with stories, pictures and video about USDA’s support for local and regional food systems and an interactive map of USDA-supported local and regional food activities in all 50 states.

Transportation Choices

The Role of Transportation Systems Management & Operations in Supporting Livability and Sustainability  (Exit Disclaimer)
The document describes nine key elements for managing and operating transportation systems in ways that support livability and sustainability. The document also provides a vision of how the regional transportation system could look in the future if M&O strategies were comprehensively implemented to advance livability and sustainability goals. Case examples throughout and a section on implementation will help practitioners to get started on implementing M&O to support livability and sustainability in their communities.

The Model Design Manual for Living Streets  (Exit Disclaimer)
This model manual offers a template of plans and specifications for local jurisdictions to tailor to meet local community conditions and specific street design needs. Additionally, the manual offers recommendations to maximize benefits and minimize costs associated with street design.

Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach   (Exit Disclaimer)
Produced by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), the guide is a recommended practice for local communities to apply context-sensitive solutions to street design. The manual acts as a how-to document that illustrates best practices for the creation and implementation of walkable, mixed-use streets.

Sustainable Highways Self-Evaluation Tool (Exit Disclaimer)
Identifies characteristics of sustainable highways and provides procedures and techniques to help agencies and organizations apply and integrate sustainability best practices into highway and other roadway projects and programs within system planning, project development, and operations and maintenance.

Livability in Transportation Guidebook
A Federal Highway Administration guide to incorporating livability principles into transportation planning, programming, and project design, using examples from State, regional, and local sponsors. DOT also released two training videos highlighting key concepts and case studies from the Guidebook available to watch online. View Part I of the training here and Part II here.

Transportation Planning and Sustainability Guidebook
The guidebook presents critical issues involved in planning for sustainable transportation systems and then reviews current practices in the US and abroad that address these issues.

FHWA Bicycle and Pedestrian Resources
This page provides links to program related websites, upcoming events, and other resources including data sources related to walking and bicycling, reports by other groups, and speeches by DOT leadership. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) also has a wealth of information and research about health and safety, engineering, advocacy, education, enforcement and access and mobility.

Pedestrian and Transit-Friendly Design: A Primer for Smart Growth (PDF 26p 2.75MB)
This manual highlights 23 pedestrian- and transit-friendly design features with descriptions, photos, and graphics.

Livability, Sustainable Development and Smart Growth Bibliography
A listing of relevant articles and research reports on the benefits of sustainable communities from 2004-2009 compiled by the National Transportation Library.

 Transit-Friendly Streets: Design and Traffic Management Strategies to Support Livable Communities (Exit Disclaimer)
Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 33 presents 10 strategies used in both the United States and Europe to create transit-friendly streets. The strategies are followed by case studies of five communities that have pursued different initiatives to improve their livability.

The Role of Transit in Creating Livable Metropolitan Communities (PDF 19p 3.34MB)
The report combines guidelines and case studies to provide a comprehensive approach for improving community livability and transit ridership in the United States.

Livability & Smart Growth Assessment Tools Database 
Hosted by the Safe States Alliance, the database provides centralized access to basic assessment tools and checklists that can assist users with evaluating their communities' degree of livability and provide essential information needed to create safer and healthier neighborhoods.

Safe, Healthy, and Active Transportation Toolkit
The Safe, Healthy, and Active Transportation Toolkit is comprised of a host of resources designed to provide public health professionals, planners, and others with presentations, seminal articles, case studies, fact sheets, and other sources of information that can be used to support and advance Smart Growth, livability, and improved built environment efforts.  The goal of this toolkit is to provide resources and evidence for those that want to reach out to their fellow colleagues in the areas of transportation, land use, and public health to make a stronger case for why health is a transportation issue.

Finally, please post the below resource to the resources page on the bottom of the Clean Air and Water page.

Housing Choices

FTA Joint Development Resources
A set of tools for joint development and transit oriented development, including detailed information on the types of Federal Transit Administration funding that can be used for joint development projects.

Mixed-Income Transit-Oriented Development Action Guide (Exit Disclaimer)
The Center for Transit-Oriented Development maintains a comprehensive website with information on ways to create mixed-income housing in transit-oriented development.

Smart Growth and Affordable Housing
An EPA website with resources and a discussion of how smart growth strategies can help communities and their residents be better stewards of the environment and achieve more affordable, livable communities.

Realizing the Potential: Expanding Housing Opportunities Near Transit 
A report funded by the Federal Transit Administration and HUD shows that location matters a great deal when it comes to reducing household costs.

The Role of State DOTs in Support of Transit-Oriented Development (PDF 17p 373.26KB)
This report, requested by the AASHTO Standing Committee on the Environment, highlights innovative ways that states can support development around transit investment.

Clean Air and Water

Air Quality Resources
State and Local Climate and Energy Program
An EPA program to provide technical assistance, analytical tools, and outreach support to state, local, and tribal governments.

EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality
Offers information on emissions from transportation sources, including information about relevant EPA regulations, and what you can do to reduce your transportation emissions.

Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse
Includes information about greenhouse gas inventories, reduction strategies, and state and local best practices.

Integrating Climate Change into the Transportation Planning Process
This study provides a toolkit for integrating climate change considerations into long range transportation planning at state DOTs and MPOs. The report reviews the experience of a number of DOTs and MPOs that are already incorporating climate change into their transportation planning processes and identifies their successes and challenges.

Getting Smart About Climate Change (Exit Disclaimer)
Outlines nine strategies for successfully applying smart growth principles to climate concerns on the local and regional levels.

Smart Growth: A Guide to Developing and Implementing Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs (PDF 16p 1.39MB)
Describes how smart growth strategies can help local governments reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve quality of life.

EPA Climate Change Portal
Provides information on climate change for communities, individuals, businesses, states, localities, and governments.

Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse
Includes information about greenhouse gas inventories, reduction strategies, and state and local best practices.

Integrating Climate Change into the Transportation Planning Process
This study provides a toolkit for integrating climate change considerations into long range transportation planning at state DOTs and MPOs. The report reviews the experience of a number of DOTs and MPOs that are already incorporating climate change into their transportation planning processes and identifies their successes and challenges.

Water Quality Resources

Green Infrastructure Models and Calculators
This site offers tools to model stormwater runoff, water-quality impacts from land use changes, the benefits of green roofs and urban tree coverage, and pollutant load reductions; to evaluate the performance of green infrastructure techniques; and to help quantify the costs and benefits of stormwater treatment devices and green infrastructure investments.

Green Infrastructure Municipal Handbook
Topics in this handbook from EPA include financing, operation and maintenance, incentives, designs, codes and ordinances, and a variety of other subjects to help local officials implement green infrastructure in their communities.

Green Infrastructure Resources
EPA documents and resources to help communities understand and implement green infrastructure, an approach to wet weather management that is cost effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly.

Sustainable Infrastructure for Water and Wastewater
EPA compendium of sustainable practices for water quality project and asset management, full cost pricing, water efficiency, and watershed approaches.

Protecting Water Resources with Smart Growth
Intended for audiences already familiar with smart growth concepts who seek specific ideas on how techniques for smarter growth can be used to protect water resources. Suggests 75 policies that communities can use to grow in the way that they want while protecting their water quality.

EPA Watershed Academy
Offers a variety of self-paced training modules for a basic and broad introduction to the watershed management field.

Opportunities to Advance Sustainability in California's Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program (47 p 765K)
Produced by EPA's Office of Water and EPA's Office of Sustainable Communities, this report describes a pilot project to help the state direct resources to projects that support sustainable communities.

Maryland Clean Water State Revolving Fund Sustainable Communities Pilot Project Report (15 p 227 K)
Decisions about where to provide public wastewater infrastructure affect development patterns and influence where and how a community will grow. This report describes how EPA worked with Maryland's Clean Water State Revolving Fund program to consider ways to focus resources in existing communities and infrastructure systems to leverage past investments and support sustainable communities.

Lick Run Watershed Strategic Integration Report
US EPA Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization commissioned this plan to outline coordinated actions, investments and decision-points associated with  a green infrastructure program approach.

Equity & Environmental Justice

Federal Mapping Resources Catalog (PDF 14p 284KB)
Team-EJ, the environmental justice-focused working group of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, has compiled the linked publicly-available mapping and data tools from across the three Partnership agencies, USDA, and the Centers for Disease Control at the Department of Health and Human Services. These tools provide diverse ways for communities to understand where there are federal investments in their communities, learn what types of special designations they may qualify for, and access geo-spatial data on demographics, health indicators, toxic facilities, community assets and much more.

Team-EJ Environmental Justice Deskbook  (PDF 119pp. 9.26mb)
The Environmental Justice and Sustainability Resource Reference Deskbook serves as a one-stop compilation of information intended to help those who address environmental justice and/or sustainability issues.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities: Supporting Environmental Justice and Equitable Development (PDF 4p 665.68KB)
Describes how the Partnership for Sustainable Communities is working to help communities become more equitable and more sustainable for all residents.

Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice Strategies
With guidance from the Obama Administration, the Partnership Agencies and other members of the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice are updating their EJ guidance and strategy documents with the benefit of feedback from community, industry, and equity groups.

Environmental Justice Federal Interagency Directory (PDF 52 pp, 886K)
This resource provides basic information about the role of each federal agency in environmental justice and includes their organization chart and key contact information for agency staff.

Community-Based Federal Environmental Justice Guide (PDF 126 pp, 3MB)
Includes programs within federal agencies that may assist communities in reducing toxic exposure. The federal programs listed may provide technical assistance, federal funding or a combination of both.

FHWA Accessibility Resource Library
Information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other accessibility resources that may affect research, planning, design, construction, or operations of any Federal Highway Administration project.

Equitable Development Toolkit (Exit Disclaimer)
This toolkit introduces 28 tools that can help communities and regions begin to reverse patterns of segregation and disinvestment, prevent displacement, and promote equitable revitalization.

National Environmental Justice Resource Center (Exit Disclaimer)0
This web site compiles news, resources, and research on environmental justice and related issues.

Community Planning

FHWA Scenario Planning Toolbox
The Federal Highway Administration maintains an online toolbox with noteworthy practices and innovative uses of Scenario Planning applications for communities. You can explore other Scenario Planning Resources and learn who to contact in FHWA about particular  community planning questions or issues.

HUD Consolidated Planning
Resources local governments can use to prepare consolidated plans and examples of innovative regional and integrated planning practices that can be applied by local governments as they update their own plans. Includes information about Transit-Oriented Development and neighborhood planning.

Smart Growth Online (Exit Disclaimer)
A web-based catalogue of smart growth-related news, events, information, and resources, funded by EPA.

Getting to Smart Growth, Volumes I and II
These primers describe concrete techniques of putting the ten smart growth principles into practice. Each publication has 100 policies that have proven successful in communities across the United States and range from formal legislative or regulatory efforts to informal approaches, plans, and programs. Both publications are also available in Spanish.

Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes
A toolbox of the most relevant zoning changes that communities can make to their zoning codes and regulations based on common issues and themes confronting urban and suburban governments.

Tool Kit for Integrating Land Use and Transportation Decision-Making
A user-friendly source of methods, strategies, and procedures for integrating land use and transportation planning, decision-making, and project implementation. Thirty tools, including CommunityViz, PLACE3S, and Paint the Town are included, along with implementation examples and additional information.

Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit
A set of tools to help your community grow smarter, including a quick diagnostic of existing conditions, a policy audit, a code audit, an audit summary mechanism, and a project scorecard to assess potential updates.

Scenario Planning Tools Web Portal
A website created by the EPA Office of Sustainable Communities to facilitate a community of scenario planning tool developers and users with the objective of advancing the use of scenario planning tools. Available on the site is a new report examining the current state of scenario planning, the promise of scenario planning tools to help us prepare for the future, the challenges to expanding their use and their potential to open access to the planning process. Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools (Exit Disclaimer) came out of a series of workshops between scenario tool developers and users, including the EPA Office of Sustainable Communities.

Smart Growth Scorecards
A collection of scorecards that help communities assess their existing policies, current development patterns, and proposed development projects based on smart growth principles.

Growing Smart Legislative Handbook (PDF 73p 1MB)
The guidebook provides alternative approaches to state planning and zoning enabling statutes with model laws and supporting commentary. Many of the model laws in the Guidebook are adaptations of existing, successful state statutes.

Energy Efficiency

Location Efficiency and Housing Type – Boiling it Down to BTUs
An EPA report finds that a home's location and access to transit are as important to reducing energy use as are energy-efficiency measures in homes and cars.

Energy Efficiency Resources for Governments
Information funding and programs at the US Department of Energy for governments, including tribal programs, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program, and others.

Green Homes and Communities
Provides information local governments can use to find smart solutions to energy and environmental challenges associated with housing development.

EPA Green Building Program
The hub for EPA's green building activities, with links to resources to help communities find healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition.

Sustainable Design and Green Building Toolkit for Local Governments (PDF 92p 17.32MB)
A toolkit to assist local governments identifying and remove barriers to sustainable design and green building in their permitting processes. The toolkit contains an assessment tool, a resource guide, and a guide to developing an action plan for implementing changes to the permitting process.

Green Building Action Plan
A report by the Federal Transit Administration provides an analysis of green buildings in transit and actions to encourage these practices in the transit industry.

Playbook for Green Buildings + Neighborhoods (Exit Disclaimer)
Developed by a consortium of more than 20 local governments, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and utilities, the playbook provides strategies, tips, and tools that cities and counties can use to take immediate action on climate change through green buildings, green neighborhoods, and sustainable infrastructure.

Toolbase.org (Exit Disclaimer)
Resource on technical aspects on home building, including energy efficiency and green building.  This resource was developed as part of HUD’s PATH program.