Community Development Innovation Review

March 2014

Neighborhood Health: A New Framework for Investing in Sustainable Communities


The sustainability movement in the United States has increasingly embraced the environmental benefits of dense, mixed-use walkable communities. However, it has been slower to codify these benefits into formal project review and rating systems for investment. Sustainability advocates have historically focused on building-level performance, with a particular emphasis on energy, water, and waste management. This emphasis on the building as a stand-alone structure, separate from its neighborhood context, reflects both the challenges of neighborhood-scale data gathering and the fragmented nature of neighborhood development in the United States. As a result, individual projects may be high-performing in some respects without actually addressing the larger issues of site and neighborhood design that are so vital to sustainable communities. Fortunately, public policymakers and private industry leaders have recently begun to develop a more robust set of tools for measuring sustainability at the neighborhood scale.

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Other articles in this issue

Mixing Asset Building with Energy Efficiency: A Recipe for Financial and Environmental Sustainability

The Future of the Clean (Green) Economy

Cleaner Energy and Health: Household, Local and Global Benefits

Financing Energy Efficiency Retrofits of Affordable Multifamily Buildings

Manufactured Homes Help Both Save the Planet and Save Money for Low-Income Owners

Utilities and Community Developers Partner to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Affordable Rental Housing Nationwide

Integrating Energy Efficiency into Mortgage Financing: Promising Efforts in the New York City Multifamily Building Sector

Home Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Risks: An Extended Abstract

Charter Schools Ripe for Green Investments

Financing Energy Efficiency in Low-Income Multifamily Rental Housing: A Progress Update from the Low Income Investment Fund

Bringing Down Green Financing Costs: How a State-sponsored Bank Might be the Key

Understanding the True Benefits of both Energy Efficiency and Job Creation

Can Cities Lead the Way in Innovative Energy Retrofits for Single-Family Homes?

Lenders’ Property Standards and Energy Efficiency: The Vital Link for Affordable Housing

Energy to Heal: Health Care, Climate Change, and Community Resilience