Category Archives: Uncategorized

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


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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.

APA SCD Announcing New Secretary Treasurer


The APA’s Sustainable Communities Division is pleased to announce Merrill St. Leger as our new Secretary-Treasurer, beginning 2017. We thank the outgoing officer Jenny Koch for her diligent work and her devotion to this position during her term.


Merrill notes, “I’m grateful and excited to have been elected to fill the position of Secretary-Treasurer for the APA’s Sustainable Communities Division, and I’m looking forward to getting started! I’ll be working with Jenny to understand the various duties of this position and to ensure a totally smooth transition.” Outgoing officer Jenny Koch wants us to know “This has been a great opportunity! I have had a great time getting to know our Division members. I’m proud of the work that we’re doing together, and I look forward to staying involved in SCD’s activities.”

Merrill is a Principal with SmithGroupJJR, where she leads the Urban Design and Planning studio in the firm’s Washington, DC office. As a studio leader and principal-in-charge, she is responsible for developing and tracking numerous office and project budgets, and helping the studio maintain the highest level of financial and planning/design performance. In over 20 years of practice, Merrill has become known for her collaborative style, and her commitment to integrating sustainable design and authentic placemaking into every project. Merrill was recently appointed SmithGroupJJR’s Urban Design Practice Sustainable Design Leader.

Webinar: Creating Living Communities

APA Sustainable Communities Division Webinar

Topic: Creating Living Communities 
CM | 1.0 (live viewing only)
Thurs. Nov. 17, 2016, Noon to 1pm (PST)

In this webinar, we will explore The Living Community Challenge (LCC), a new design framework developed by the International Living Future Institute (the Institute), which seeks to lead the transformation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative. The LCC is a certification program, as well as a planning and design philosophy that starts by raising the question, “What does good look like?”

The LCC is applicable to new or existing communities, whether new master plans or existing neighborhoods. We will also explore the LCC companion tool—Living Community Patterns (PDF) that arose in part from the research partnership with the San Francisco Planning Department (Living Community Patterns – Exploratory Strategies for a Sustainable San Francisco). An audience Q&A will conclude the webinar.


Alicia Daniels Uhlig, Living Community Challenge + Policy Director

Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, ISSP-SA, with San Francisco Planning Department

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the Living Community Challenge sustainability principles
  2. Describe each design performance area
  3. Explore the power of the “Patterns” approach to planning and designing Living Communities
  4. Discuss how the Living Community Challenge and Patterns may be used in practice

Credit: 1 CM  | 1 GBCI

Audience: Whether you are a Planner, Project Manager, Sustainability Consultant, part of a Neighborhood Association/Development Authority, or work for a Chamber of Commerce or municipality you will gain an understanding of how to adapt this enhanced understanding of sustainable community planning to your own practice and neighborhood-scale projects.