Smart Growth Self-Assessment for Rural Communities

This self-assessment tool from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a checklist of “smart growth” strategies for local governments and planners that can help inform the development of healthier and more resilient communities. This “yes”/“no” checklist is organized by eleven goal areas common to rural communities, each including examples of associated strategies from around the country with related resource links. The self-assessment allows rural communities to identify strengths and gaps in policies, plans, programs, codes, and zoning regulations which can help inform subsequent identification of high- and medium-priority strategies to address a community’s unique goals and needs. Climate change resilience and adaptation strategies are incorporated across this smart growth guidance. 

Users are instructed to begin with the first section to indicate a baseline of smart growth policies already in place within the jurisdiction, and then choose additional relevant sections to complete in accordance with a community’s particular goals. The eleven sections/goal areas are: 

  1. Revitalize Village and Town Centers
  2. Strengthen the Local Economy
  3. Engage and Connect Community Members
  4. Improve Health and Promote Active Living
  5. Protect Natural Habitats and Ecosystems
  6. Support Productive Agriculture for a Variety of Markets
  7. Meet Housing Needs for Different Ages and Incomes
  8. Preserve Historic and Cultural Resources
  9. Provide Transportation Choices
  10. Invest in Efficient Public Infrastructure Systems and Operations
  11. Use Energy Efficiently and Provide Renewable Energy

The climate change adaptation strategies suggested in various sections of this assessment relate mostly to stormwater management and green infrastructure, for example:

  • Encourage green infrastructure strategies to collect and treat stormwater runoff, such as rain gardens, vegetated swales, and permeable pavements, through incentives in new developments or redevelopments.
  • Codes include provisions exist to minimize or reduce the amount of impervious surface.
  • Permit green roofs.
  • Water-harvesting devices, such as rain barrels and cisterns, are permitted.

Additional adaptation strategies relate to water conservation, reuse of greywater, climate-appropriate and native landscaping, community gardening, floodplain development regulations, and energy efficiency in buildings.


Publication Date: July 2015

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment
  • Tool (general)


Go To Resource