Yes, we have officially entered awards season, and it’s not just movies and TV that are looking for accolades.  Cities and towns that are actively promoting sustainability and “livability” are eligible for the  National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement from the EPA.  The only thing separating these awards from the prestige of the Oscars or Grammies is a catchy name – Smarties? Achievies? Walkers? (because these cities are walkable) – and celebrity presenters.

Today, at the beautiful National Building Museum in Washington, DC, the EPA announced the winners.  The big winner (think Album/Picture of the Year) was for New York City’s sustainability and livability plan – PlaNYC 2030.

PlaNYC 2030 was actually launched in 2007, but won this year.  In a statement, the EPA noted:

New York City’s blueprint for planning future growth provided the inspiration for multi-agency coordination on innovative policies and projects to improve the quality of life in the city. PlaNYC prepares for more population while adding small public spaces throughout the city, improving air and water quality, and improving public health with better access to fresh food and more options for walking and biking.

Additionally, PlaNYC has incorporated efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, which they call – you guessed it! – GreeNYC. Between New York City’s efforts on climate, sustainability, and planning for the future, including increased population, a different climate, and a new sea level, they are also one of the leading cities in becoming climate resilient.

The EPA lists the Principles of Smart Growth as:

  • Mix land uses.
  • Take advantage of compact building design.
  • Create a range of housing opportunities and choices.
  • Create walkable neighborhoods.
  • Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place.
  • Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas.
  • Strengthen and direct development toward existing communities.
  • Provide a variety of transportation choices.
  • Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost-effective.
  • Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions.

Does your city or town follow principles of smart growth?  Do the above criteria sound like a place you’d like to live?