Sustainable Communities

Informational Resources and Guides
Tools and Calculators
Grants and Funding Programs


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA offers a Green Communities Toolkit to help local governments plan more sustainable communities. Additionally the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program offers direct technical assistance to communities  from a team of national experts in one of two areas: policy analysis (such as reviewing state and local codes, transportation policies, and zoning) or public participatory processes (such as visioning, design workshops, and alternative analysis.) Other Smart Growth Resources are available from the EPA.
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) operates most of DOE’s sustainability programs. EERE invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. The Solar America Cities program provides a guide book that introduces a range of policy and program options that can help local governments build a sustainable local solar infrastructure and market. The Clean Cities program providing access to information and incentives from federal agencies and industry partners for high-impact projects.
Strategic Growth Council (SGC)    
The SGC is tasked with coordinating the sustainable growth activities of multiple state agencies. Among the SGC’s tasks are to assist state and local entities in the planning of sustainable communities and meeting AB 32 goals. This includes providing SGC Grants for sustainable community planning, urban greening, and modeling. Other tasks of the SGC include: improving air and water quality, protecting natural resource and agriculture lands, increasing the availability of affordable housing, improving infrastructure systems, and promoting public health.
Partnership for Sustainable Communities    
The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is an alliance between the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, and Environmental Protection Agency. The partnership aims to improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide. The partnership seeks to integrate housing, transportation, water infrastructure, and land use planning and investment. HUD, EPA, and DOT propose to make planning grants available to metropolitan areas and create mechanisms to ensure those plans are carried through to localities. Funding is available for Sustainable Communities Planning and Urban Circulator Projects.
California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA)  
CSCDA’s mission is to provide local governments and private entities access to low-cost, tax-exempt financing for projects that provide a tangible public benefit, contribute to social and economic growth and improve the overall quality of life in local communities throughout California. Resources help local governments to finance equipment and real estate, road repairs, and capital improvements to water, wastewater, and sewer facilities.

Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

CalRecycle is a new department within the California Natural Resources Agency and administers California’s recycling and waste reduction efforts. CalRecycle offers several grant programs to assist local governments. The Reuse Assistance Grant Program promote the reuse of nonhazardous materials, the most recent funding cycle has yet to start. The Beverage Container Recycling Grant Program offers funding to municipalities to increase recycling in the community; however, funding has been postponed until further notice.
StopWaste.Org provides tools and information for local governments to reduce waste in their communities. The site includes policy tools and model ordinances for recycling and waste management and information on developing environmentally preferred purchasing programs.
California Department of Conservation
The California Farmland Conservancy Program seeks to encourage the long-term, private stewardship of agricultural lands through the voluntary use of agricultural conservation easements. The program provides grant funding for projects which use and support agricultural conservation easements for protection of agricultural lands.
Local Government Commission (LGC)
The Local Government Commission assists local governments in establishing and nurturing the key elements of livable communities. The LGC provides customized technical assistance to communities through contract planning and design services. The LGC can assist in planning, public participation, visioning, renewable energy resources and development of livable communities. LGC provides a bi-monthly energy issues newsletter providing local elected officials and staff with current information on energy issues affecting California local governments. The First Stop Shop for Water Resources provides information and resources related to the co-management of land and water resources.
Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI)
ICLEI is an international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations who have made a commitment to sustainable development. ICLEI provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level. While most materials and tools require membership, some resources are provided free of charge including portions of its Sustainability Planning Toolkit. In early 2010 ICLEI launched its Star Community Index program. The program is modeled after LEED to provide means by which local governments can measure and “certify” their sustainability achievements.
California Sustainability Alliance (CSA)
The California Sustainability Alliance has developed the Green General Plan Toolkit to aid local governments in planning for a sustainable future that reflects their communities’ unique mix of local resources, assets, and challenges.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The mission of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities is to create strong, sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and helping to build a clean energy economy. Community Development Block Grant Program from HUD offer funding to create affordable housing for low-income households and encourages the use of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly designs through this program. Sustainable Communities Planning Grants are also available though its Sustainable Housing and Communities Program.