Global Green conducted Sustainable Neighborhood Assessments (SNAs) in 29 communities across the United States from 2012 to 2016 through a Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities grant with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities. The goal of this technical assistance effort was to enable communities to utilize established sustainability tools to further promote comprehensive analysis and informed decision making related to neighborhood planning and public investment in order to reduce environmental impacts, mitigate climate change, increase economic resilience, and promote social equity.
The Sustainable Neighborhood Assessment methodology was developed to both recognize and address the potential impacts in neighborhood-scale sustainability efforts. While individual buildings built to green criteria can make significant economic, environmental, and social gains, their effects are limited in scale. Similarly, city and state level regulations can induce change over broader sectors of the built environment, but require years of study, legislation, and are subject to varying political priorities and term limits. Neighborhood scale sustainability efforts, however, allow for larger levels of impact that affect more community members and yield mutually beneficial outcomes such as tighter integration of infrastructural systems and neighborhood improvements (e.g., a pocket park that functions as a stormwater capture site). Applying the experience and lessons gained from Global Green’s 20 years of green building expertise to neighborhood level planning and design, the SNA program was able to engage community members and city staff on a broad swath of sustainability-related planning improvements while demonstrating their potential for broader policy applications.