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Top 5 smart growth projects in the U.S.

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Where can you find the most innovative smart growth projects in America? They're in places like New Mexico and South Dakota, and they're transforming their communities. Find out how.

Where can you find the most innovative smart growth projects in America? They're in places like New Mexico and South Dakota, and they're transforming their communities.

For the tenth year, the Environmental Protection Agency's Smart Growth Achievement Awards has highlighted the most innovative approaches that communities are using to "strengthen their economies, provide housing and transportation choices, develop in ways that bring benefits to a wide range of residents, and protect the environment."

Here's EPA's choices this year for the top 5 smart growth projects in the U.S. (in no particular order).

1. St. Louis, Mo. - The Old North St. Louis Revitalization Initiative rebuilt and revitalized a historic neighborhood. The resulting investment has attracted new residents and revived the local economy, without transforming the historic character of the neighborhood.

2. Albuquerque, N.M. - Silver Gardens Apartments was the first LEED Platinum building in the Southwest. With the combination of ultra-green building techniques and a location that's close to transit, this project is a great example of the energy-saving benefits of green buildings near transit.

3. El Paso, Texas - The city's comprehensive plan, known as Plan El Paso 2010, will help the city link its residents to jobs and amenities with more development projects near transit.

4. Howard, S.D. - Maroney Commons, a hotel, convention center, and green building to boot has helped improve economic development and revive the main street of this once-struggling rural town.

5. Normal, Ill. - The Uptown Normal Roundabout (which I've written about before) turned a congested intersection into a gathering place that is an anchor to economic development in the city's downtown.

EPA produced quality videos on all the projects. Here's a closer look at the Normal roundabout project:

Photo: Scott Shigley via Normal roundabout project designer Hoerr Schaudt

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure