WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the formation of Sustainable Communities Building Blocks, a program designed to help interested communities adopt sustainable planning methods. Sustainable planning helps safeguard the environment and spur economic development while also improving Americans’ health. Interested communities are invited to apply to receive technical assistance during a day-long session that will help them achieve their sustainable planning goals. The application period opened on Feb. 3 and ends on Feb. 23, 2011.

EPA will work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to select 20 participating communities through a competitive process. During the day-long session, participants will explore proven sustainability tools, including zoning code reviews, walkability assessments, parking policy analysis, climate action planning, and commuter benefits. Each community will select a specific tool to focus on and also learn about general smart growth development strategies.

Sustainable Communities Building Blocks is being coordinated through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a joint effort between the EPA, HUD, and DOT to coordinate federal actions on housing, transportation, and environmental protection. This inter-agency collaboration achieves efficient federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services that meet multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives.

For more information and submission instructions for the Sustainable Communities Building Blocks Program, visit www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/buildingblocks.htm. For more information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, visit www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/partnership/index.html.