May 18

8 Principles of Smart Growth

Blog, News & Events


Regions around the country are always trying to improve communities to benefit everyone. Poor growth decisions sometimes mean economic loss as well as the loss of natural resources. To help use the land in better ways, smart growth policies were created to mitigate loss.

Smart growth strategies are designed to make communities more affordable, inclusive, environmentally friendly, and economically competitive, while also protecting the surrounding landscape and natural resources.

What Is Smart Growth?

Smart growth is planned economic and community development that halts slow development and worsening environmental conditions. It aims to better serve the economic, environmental, and social needs of communities.

Smart growth strategies keep cities and communities ready for the effects of an ever-changing environment. They bring advantages to local municipalities that include energy savings, better health protection, and improved transportation services.

Smart growth strategies can also create new neighborhoods and maintain existing ones to keep them safe and healthy. They help create a well-designed community for generations to come.

Grow Your Community the Smart Way

Most urban areas need new development due to the growth in population and the changing needs of residents. Having enough affordable housing, jobs, and quality health care, while maintaining natural and agricultural lands, is the goal of smart growth policies.

As a result, a region will grow sustainably by applying principles used in smart growth. 

Below are some of the principles involved in using smart growth strategies in new development.

1. Create Distinct Communities with a Strong Sense of Pride

Smart growth encourages city and community planners to craft a vision of a unique community.  The development of these communities must reflect the values and cultures of the residents who live there. Certain standards must be set that support a cohesive community fabric.

2. Equitable Economic Opportunities

Communities remain strong when the people can find opportunities to live and work. There must be economic benefits for business owners, entrepreneurs, homeowners, and new residents. Local governments want to keep and grow adaptable industries to have a place where the locals can find employment, which in turn supports their community.

3. Well Maintained Infrastructure

Infrastructure includes transportation systems, communication networks, sewage, water, and electric systems. All systems must be maintained properly to meet demand and growth. Smart growth strategies foster ways to implement quality broadband internet access, accessibility to food and water sources, and reliable utilities that include renewable energy sources.

A variety of transportation choices must meet the needs of all ages and income levels. Successful planning of transportation options includes walking, bicycling, public transit, and driving.

4. Protect and Preserve the Natural Environment

Protecting undeveloped land helps people, wildlife, and economies thrive. Conserving open spaces protects endangered species and wildlife habitats. Access to green spaces provides a place for physical activity. Undeveloped land near waterways protects water quality and reduces the risk of flooding. Smart growth strategies should address climate change adaptation.

5. Effective Civil Engagement and Collaboration

The needs of every community are best communicated by the people who live, work, and play there. Smart growth strategies should encourage and facilitate collaboration among various sectors, community organizations, and municipal governments. Residents should be aware of smart growth principles.

6. Mixed Land Uses

Mixed land use is the practice of placing a balanced combination of residential, commercial, and recreational properties within proximity. It helps create vibrant communities that are designed for less vehicle usage and more walking. Mixed land use development preserves open spaces and provides economic growth due to a more walkable environment.

7. Compact Building Design

Building up rather than out preserves more greenspace and protects water sources. A compact building design supports different transportation choices and results in lower infrastructure costs for cities.

8. Fair and Cost-Effective Development Decisions

Redevelopment in existing communities is a smart way to mitigate urban sprawl to improve the quality of life for existing and new residents. Benefits of redevelopment include:

  • A stronger tax base
  • The closer proximity of jobs and services
  • Increased efficiency of already developed land and infrastructure

Before development decisions are implemented, they must be cost-effective and fair to encourage smart growth. A vision for growth must be developed for the community. All information should be easy to access for a transparent dialogue. All parties involved need to be engaged and well-informed so that each group can advocate for their interests.

The Planning Professionals

We can help put your smart growth strategies to work. At Pickett, Ray, & Silver, our planning team is ready to help you plan land to be developed to better your community. Contact us today for a consultation for your next development project.


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