The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is using two programs to commit more than $1.5 million to an estimated 125 local, state, and tribal governments to support smart growth. Through the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program (SGIA) and the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program, the OEA seeks to help create more housing choices, make transportation more efficient and reliable, and support vibrant neighborhoods to attract businesses. Interested communities can apply for assistance until Oct. 28, 2011.

The SGIA program was launched in 2005 to use contractor assistance to help communities to explore innovative ideas to overcome development barriers. According to the EPA, potential topics include helping communities figure out how to develop in ways that make them more resilient t natural hazards, increase economic growth, and use locally generated energy. The EPA anticipates selecting three to four communities for assistance to create models for other communities.

The Building Blocks program provides technical assistance to communities facing common development problems and supports actions such as improving pedestrian access and safety, zoning code reviews, and housing and transportation evaluations. According to the EPA, assistance will be provided in two ways. First, 50 communities will be selected for direct assistance. Second, four nongovernment organizations—the Cascade Land Conservancy, Global Green USA, Project for Public Spaces, and Smart Growth America—have been given cooperative agreements to deliver technical assistance.

For more information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, visit. sustainablecommunities.gov; for more  on the Building Blocks program and the request for letters of interest, visit epa.gov/smartgrowth/buildingblocks.htm; and for more information on the SGIA program and its request for letters of interest, visit epa.gov/smartgrowth/sgia.htm