Pathbreaking Sustainable Communities Planning Research at Virginia Tech


Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute’s Sustainable Communities Initiative and the concept and work of their Sustainability Lab are high-level, valuable summaries of the state of sustainability planning. They are well worth a few minutes of reading.

The Initiative covers the topics of climate change, design, public health and planning, sustainability planning, transportation, and urban regeneration. Of particular interest is the topic of sustainability planning, the introduction of which provides a good summary of the topic and their approach, including their take on eco-cities.

The work of the Sustainability Lab is contained on another website, and appears to be a rich resource.It has a set of learning modules on sustainability planning, as well as other resources on international cases, HUD Grants, and a review and dissection of sustainability plans.


In the spring of 2010 the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech launched its Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) to explore the intersection of planning, design, and policy through applied research and direct assistance to communities. After its preliminary scan of the literature and model programs, the Metropolitan Institute started to identify gaps in our sustainability knowledge with the goal of recommending research projects that would facilitate the necessary changes in government policies, industry practices and individual behaviors.

At the same time, HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities (OSHC) was developing its grant program and forging its new Partnership for Sustainable Communities with EPA and DOT. The Metropolitan Institute, together with Virginia Tech’s Center for Housing Research (CHR), began a series of conversations with OSHC and HUD’s Office of Planning, Development, and Research (PD&R) to better understand how Virginia Tech’s sustainability work could assist HUD in framing relevant research questions and policy initiatives. These discussions led Virginia Tech to convene a one-day research roundtable on September 1st, 2010.

The Sept. 1st Round Table discussion developed high-priority lines of research “to provide HUD and the new interagency partnership with research ideas and insights that support the development of a sustainability policy agenda.” Go here for a web page summary and to access the full PDF report: Policy Research Priorities for Sustainable Communities–Insights and Ideas for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

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