Sustainable Communities

What is a Sustainable Community?

Sustainable development recognizes that growth must be both inclusive and environmentally sound to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity for today’s population and to continue to meet the needs of future generations. It must be efficient with resources and carefully planned to deliver immediate and long-term benefits for people, planet, and prosperity.     -- The World Bank

Sustainable communities demonstrate long-term, proactive, thoughtful and integrated planning and development. They embrace the values of equity and resilience as assets for the economic and social wellbeing of the entire community. They work to ensure that all members of their communities have access to economic, housing, education, transit, health and other opportunities. Sustainable communities by design have a greater capacity to prosper in changing and uncertain times, as well as withstanding economic, natural and other challenges.

Background: The Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI)

The SCI Executive Committee, composed of leaders representing all sectors of the community, reviewed the outcomes of the Sustainable Communities Initiative.  Based on the knowledge and experience gained through every activity conducted under SCI, the Executive Committee offered five Sustainable Communities Principles intended to serve as a common foundation for work to meet shared challenges and goals. These principles were endorsed by the DRCOG Board in May 2015.

In 2011, as part of a coordinated effort with 86 partner organizations, DRCOG was successful in securing a $4.5-million grant for the benefit of the region. The three-year grant from the Sustainable Communities Partnership, a federal collaboration of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, supported regional, corridor, and site-level planning and implementation activities.

SCI consisted of a consortium of municipalities, counties, state agencies, housing authorities, nonprofits, corporate interests, and philanthropic and academic organizations. The project’s overarching goal was to align investments, programs and policies to maximize the benefits that result from the region’s commitment to build-out its transit system. It anticipates a region with greater access to job opportunities across the entire income spectrum, lower combined transportation and housing costs, reduced consumption of fossil fuels, reduced strain on our air and water resources, and ultimately the development of mixed-use, pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly communities along transit lines that allow residents to easily access their daily needs without having to get into a car. These attributes were intended to align with and support Metro Vision, the region’s long-range plan for growth and development.