Category Archives: Uncategorized

EcoDistricts Foundations Course + Workshop

SCD is co-hosting this EcoDistricts training as a shoulder program for NPC18.


Friday, April 20, 2018
8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. CDT
Tulane ByWater Institute, 1370 Port of New Orleans Place, New Orleans, LA 70130
CM | 6.50

Event Overview

The EcoDistricts Foundation Course will immerse attendees in the approach and tools to create EcoDistricts, a unique standard for urban and community development that puts equity, resilience, and climate protection at the heart of every decision.

The course is hosted by EcoDistricts and APA’s Sustainable Communities Division as a shoulder program for NPC18. The course is open to APA members in addition to the New Orleans community.

This course is for planners, architects, developers, community development professionals, and municipal leaders seeking to advance their skills, apply the EcoDistricts standard, and/or become an EcoDistricts Accredited Professional.

Learning Objectives

  • Gain an in-depth overview of EcoDistricts Certified — the world’s first comprehensive framework to guide urban and community development — from planning to implementation.
  • Learn about key issues and best practices influencing neighborhood sustainability — including resiliency, equity, green infrastructure, placemaking, and community health.
  • Explore inspiring case studies, including the first set of projects committed to EcoDistricts Certified.
  • Be prepared to take the EcoDistricts Accredited Professional exam, the first credential demonstrating a commitment to creating sustainable, equitable neighborhoods.

Training Staff

  • Edward Hill, EcoDistricts AP, Director of Advisory Services, EcoDistricts
  • Eliot Allen, LEED AP-ND, EcoDistricts AP

Announcing our Second Annual Student Essay Contest


The Sustainable Communities Division is welcoming submissions for its annual student essay contest. The contest aims to recognize and foster the academic excellence of university students pursuing studies in fields related to sustainable community planning.

  • First place: One undergraduate student and one graduate student will receive awards of $250 each.
  • Second Place: One undergraduate student and one graduate will receive awards of $150 each.
Essays may be on any subject that address items in the APA’s Sustainability Policy Framework through a planning perspective. (You can review the framework at )
All submissions are due by Friday, March 16, 2018 at 5:00pm Pacific Time, and winners will be recognized at the Sustainable Communities Division’s Reception at the 2018 APA National Conference in New Orleans, LA.

Continue reading

Green Streets and Tree Huggers







Kim Lundgren‘s story and podcast on “Tree Huggers” and the Green Streets project in Lawrence, MA.

GREEN STREETS: A Health Impact Assessment of the Lawrence Green Streets Program


In recognition of National Public Health Week (April 3-9, 2017) and in the spirit of APA’s Plan4Health Project, the APA-MA Chapter and SCD Division of APA just released a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment on the Benefits of Streets Trees in the built environment.

The physical environment in which we live is an important determinant of human health. Green infrastructure elements such as street trees can play an important role in the mental health, physical activity, and social interaction of residents. In 2016, Massachusetts planners and members of the American Planning Association’s Sustainable Communities Division partnered with Groundwork Lawrence on a volunteer service project to measure the health benefits of the Green Streets Program. This program’s goal is to plant 2,400 trees throughout the City of Lawrence over a 3-year period. To promote the program and achieve this goal, APA-SCD worked collaboratively with Groundwork Lawrence and residents in Lawrence to conduct a Health Impact Assessment to analyze the potential health benefits of street tree planting in the City. The result was a comprehensive assessment and evaluation of the physical, environmental and social impacts of street tree planting in Lawrence.

The final report provides an overview of the Green Streets Program HIA process, a summary of findings, recommendations and the resources that were developed by the APA-SCD team to achieve the Green Streets Program goals.  Deliverables include an Infographic highlighting the benefits of street trees in a community, a logo and a tagline to boost participation in the Program: Good for Lawrence – Great for You. The deliverables were translated into Spanish to engage the large Latino population in Lawrence. Throughout the project, the APA-SCD team documented their steps to ensure this process could be replicated by planners in any community. For more information, please contact:
Neil Angus, AICP, or
Angela Vincent, AICP,


By: Pete Pointner, FAICP, ALA, ITE


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Green infrastructure is all of the elements of the natural environment that influence and support human communities – urban, suburban and rural. These elements include wetlands, surface and ground water, forests and native landscapes, urban streetscapes, parks and open space. Therefore, consideration of natural resources in site planning is central to the concept of Green Infrastructure.

The benefits of green infrastructure are many. At all scales of consideration, there are significant benefits of green infrastructure. Environmentally, it helps reduce greenhouse gasses, moderate temperature extremes, provide wildlife habitat, and preserve prime agricultural land and rural character. It can purify and return rainwater to groundwater aquifers and protect and enhance the functioning of ecosystems. Socially, green infrastructure provides people with aesthetic, recreational and health benefits by creating pedestrian and bicycle pathways to and within green areas.  Economically, trees and green plant materials can reduce flooding, improve property values and create an environment conducive to social interaction and commerce. There are many techniques for integrating green infrastructure into a site plan.  These are described and referenced in my article which is available on the Sustainability Divisions web site.

There are many techniques for integrating green infrastructure into a site plan.  These are described and referenced in my article which is available on the Sustainability Divisions web site.

The process for this integration is critical to achieving the environmental, social, economic and health benefits of green infrastructure. This article identifies the process in terms of: the importance of an interdisciplinary team; the identification and response to the direction given by the program from the client; the identification, evaluation and documentation of planning factors; and the necessity of balancing trade-offs in the evolution of a site plan. The article concludes with two illustrative case studies which show how the recommended process was applied.  The first is for an approved plan for a 158.4 hectare (396 acre) mixed use development with residential, retail/service and office components in Woodstock, Illinois.  The second covers site selection and planning for a boarding school campus within a 480 hectare (1,200 acre) forested parcel adjacent to a wilderness area in northern Wisconsin.  This school, with “environment” a key component of the teaching curriculum, has been implemented and is in operation.  Each case study presents the key components of the process: defining the program; the team formation; the existing conditions; and the planning response in terms of green infrastructure.  These two case studies have been adapted from two of the 19 case studies contained in the author’s book, “Planning Connections – Human, Natural and Man Made”. For more information on Green Infrastructure, Low Impact Design and Sustainability see, “Readings in Urban Planning and Design”, available via

Championing Sustainability in Upstate New York


By Joana B. Nadieu, AICP

untitledTwo and a half years ago I accepted the brand-new position of “Sustainability Champion” as an excuse to get to know more of my colleagues in the Upstate NY Chapter. Having moved to the area not long before to a job that is nationally-focused, I was out of the loop on local trends and players in sustainability.

Fast forward to now: I manage an email list of 87 people for a regional sustainability network, have organized four webinars on sustainability that have reached over 1000 attendees featuring case studies from our region, and put together three state chapter sessions in New York State. Through this work, I have met and learned about planners doing sustainability work from New Hampshire to Washington DC on topics from transportation resilience to sustainable stormwater management and renewable energy.

How did this start? Thanks to great support from Anne Miller (Champions coordinator), Scott Turner (Division Chair), Beth Otto, and others, I established a presence for the Division at regional and state conferences. I started off by snagging a table at the Northeast APA Conference – a special regional conference event hosted by several state chapters – and getting people to sign up for what is now called the Northeast Regional Sustainability Network. We distributed copies of the APA Sustainability Policy, Sustaining Places report, and talked with like-minded community leaders and colleagues in allied professions.

Because of the dispersed nature of those who were initially interested and the lack of state sustainability committees in the region, we opted to meet via conference call and invite anyone who was interested to attend. After one call, the group decided to use webinars as a structure for group conversations and learning. Through the Planners Webcast Series, Northeast Sustainability Network webinars featured:

  • Research by Dr. George Homsy on the state of sustainability alongside examples of community planning from three states – recording available here (A similar session is slated for the 2017 National Planning Conference in NYC!);
  • Guidance on sustainability metrics from state and local level perspectives – recording available here, and An exploration of planning for resilience in transportation systems across the country – recording coming soon.

Our hope was to help connect planners in the northeast with others who have incorporated sustainability into their work, and also give them a platform to share their lessons learned and resources with the national APA membership.

We have been pleased with the diversity of participants and the discussion stimulated by these events among planners far and wide. As the Champion program matures, I hope additional champions will help make more connections across the northeast region and deepen Chapter-level involvement in the Division. I look forward to working with you to create a sustainable future!

Joanna B. Nadeau, AICP, is one of the Divison’s sustainability champions and the director of community programs at Audubon International, headquartered in Troy, New York.

Annual Awards for Excellence in Sustainability


The Sustainable Communities Division will announce the call for nominees for the 5th Annual Excellence in Sustainability Awards in late 2017 or early 2018. Please check back, or subscribe to the e-bulletin to receive a notification when the call for nominations is posted.  You can read about the awards categories and the application process from the 2017 awards in this information packet.