State APA Chapter Sustainability Committees & Resources

In the interests of advancing sustainability by sharing existing resources and experience more widely, this post brings together links to the new Sustainable Communities Division, to the five formal sustainability committees of APA State Chapters, and to related links to important State Chapter work that is not part of a formal sustainability committee.

Each committee’s experience and approach represents a home-grown response. Together they reflect many of the leading themes and approaches to sustainability that may be useful for other State Chapters, sections, and planning departments interested in developing a more focused and intentional response.

The Sustainable Communities Division (2012) was founded on the perception that the need for leadership on comprehensive approaches to sustainability planning was growing. The Division’s goal is to help planners engage and collaborate on innovative approaches to this important emerging issue. See the Division’s APA Website and its Blog for resources, updates, and initiatives.

APA_CAAPA CA-Northern’s (2010) Sustainability Committee enhances understanding and practice by illuminating leading edge and strategic sustainability frameworks, initiatives, and planning cases. Such approaches catalyze planning innovation for sustainability by achieving net-zero, restorative, or regenerative environmental impacts, economic prosperity, and vibrant livable communities. Visit the website and subscribe to it’s e-list for periodic updates of exemplary events and leading resources.

APA_COpngAPA Colorado’s (2009) Sustainability Committee’s mission is to “promote the integration of sustainability principles into planning policy and practice.” The Sustainability Committee pursues a work program of education and outreach. The Sustainability Committee pursues a work program of education and outreach. It meets monthly, plans trainings and events, assists with state conference greening; identifies and promotes best practices; collaborates with other organizations; and engages Colorado APA membership.

APA_FLAPA Florida’s (2012) Sustainability Committee completed start-up tasks in 2012, such as defining sustainability and establishing committee objectives after reconciling different ideas about sustainability and defining priorities. They have developed a web-based planners’ resource the inspiring and powerful sustainability toolkit (here) and update it regularly. The Committee also networks with other professional organizations (AIA,ASLA,and ULI) to coordinate efforts. The committee members coordinate their efforts through regular Committee conference calls.

APA_MAAPA Massachusetts’ (2004) Sustainability Committee works towards the following three objectives: (1) providing a forum for professionals, students, and other interested parties involved with sustainability to discuss planning issues; (2) increasing fellowship among committee members through the exchange of information and ideas; and (3) increasing planners’ knowledge of the growing sustainable development practice throughout all aspects of land use planning within Massachusetts.

APA_NJAPA New Jersey’s Sustainability Committee promotes planning that creates sustainable, green, energy efficient communities at all levels of government. This type of planning creates strong relationships between buildings, land use, housing, all modes of transportation, and the environment to improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impacts.


APA_ORAPA_StSustComms Neither Oregon nor Washington have separate sustainability committees, but their sustainability initiatives are extensive and longstanding. Washington APA addresses sustainability through the lens of climate change, the Growth Management Act, and Livable Washington. The Oregon APA’s sustainability work includes development of an extensive sustainability toolkit for Oregon planners that other planners may find useful.

An article in the Sustainable Communities Division Newsletter contains more information on the APA State Chapter sustainability responses (see p. 4, here) and this blog post describes the results of the facilitated discussion at the 2013 Chicago APA Conference and provides other links.