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About the Sustainable Communities Resource Center

Increasingly, America’s communities are developing strategies to help ensure their economic, environmental and social well-being. A sustainable community is an urban, rural, or suburban community that has a vibrant local economy, more housing and transportation choices, is closer to jobs, schools and shops, is more energy independent, and helps protect clean air and water.

Because every community is different and sustainability encompasses a range of needs and opportunities, there is no “one size fits all” model. Rather, sustainability uses a bottom-up approach and a range of strategies in response to the needs, assets, and visions that each community brings to the table. What all of these communities have in common are coordinated, well-thought-out approaches to leveraging investments that attract jobs, save taxpayer money, offer more energy-efficient housing and transportation choices and that balance economic and natural assets to meet both the current and future needs of all Americans.

The Sustainable Communities Resource Center is intended to provide the public with a comprehensive set of information that supports local and regional strategies, with a particular emphasis on sustainable housing and planning. The Resource Center provides ready access to best practices, cutting edge research, new reports and resources, and spotlights innovation in the field.

About HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities

The mission of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities is to create strong, sustainable communities by helping communities connect housing to jobs, foster local innovation, and build a clean energy economy. Through its work and in partnership with other federal agencies, local communities and regions, the Office of Sustainable Communities is supporting cutting edge research, innovative and inclusive planning practices, and new strategies for improving energy efficiency in new and existing housing. Underlying this work is an emphasis on leveraging federal investments to create jobs, achieve multiple tax payer benefits for each dollar invested, and support local ingenuity, innovation and partnership.

Supporting Inclusive and Innovative Planning Practice
The Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities works to coordinate federal housing and transportation investments with regional and local planning decisions. This approach reduces transportation costs for families, improves housing affordability, saves energy, and increases access to housing and employment opportunities. The Office plays a lead role in the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, linking HUD, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency in our efforts to build sustainable communities by coordinating federal policies, programs, and resources. The Office also works directly with communities to support innovative planning and practice through its Sustainable Communities Initiative.

The objective of the Sustainable Communities Initiative is to stimulate more integrated and sophisticated regional planning to guide state, metropolitan, and local investments in land use, transportation and housing. The Initiative also helps localities in their efforts to address regulatory barriers to economic revitalization and expand housing options for residents of all ages, incomes, and abilities. The Office does this through the Sustainable Communities Resource Center, the Sustainable Communities Research program, and its two planning grant programs: the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program and the Community Challenge Planning Grant Program

Supporting Energy Innovation and Green Building
Healthy, energy-efficient, affordable housing is a key Departmental priority. Accordingly, the Office works with program and field offices, other federal agencies, local communities, and industry partners to deploy innovative strategies for reducing energy consumption in the residential sector. In addition to lowering carbon emissions, saving energy, and lowering costs, these innovations will help create new green jobs, spur economic growth, and assist regions in becoming more competitive on a national and global scale.

The Office collaborates with other HUD offices to develop strategies for reducing energy consumption in public and assisted housing — some 5 million units of affordable housing whose energy costs top $7 billion annually. Significant opportunities exist for lowering these costs; the Office plays an important role in working with HUD partners and programs to develop strategies, identify incentives, increase capacity, and lower barriers to implementing energy efficiency programs and installing clean energy systems in these properties. The Office serves as the Department’s program lead for achieving HUD’s annual performance goals of retrofitting more than 300,000 units of HUD-assisted housing by 2013.

The Office also partners with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to test (and where feasible, bring to scale) new and innovative products, such as the new PowerSaver pilot program, which provides second mortgages or consumer loans for energy efficiency improvements in single family homes. In the multifamily sector, the Office works with FHA to implement the Multifamily Energy Innovation Fund, which is designed to overcome financial and regulatory barriers to increasing energy efficiency in the multifamily housing market. The Office also works with the Department of Energy and EPA to test improved home energy rating tools that will provide better information on home energy costs for consumers.



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