The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) is pleased to provide this Smart Growth/Smart Energy Toolkit on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This Toolkit provides easy access to information on planning, zoning, subdivision, site design, and building construction techniques that can make smart growth and smart energy a reality in your community. The materials are designed to increase understanding of smart growth/smart energy tools and policies, as well as how to customize and apply the techniques to suit local circumstances. The Commonwealth encourages communities to adopt and implement these smart growth/smart energy measures in order to realize the many environmental, fiscal, and social benefits of smarter energy and smarter land use.

 

Integration of Smart Growth / Smart Energy into Comprehensive Planning

Planning - the importance of context to successful implementation of smart growth/smart energy techniques

Successful implementation of these measures will require planning. Adoption of any of the techniques included here will require customization, and communities should not simply copy and use model bylaws, either those provided here or found elsewhere, without modifications to address circumstances within the community. Ideally, users of this Toolkit will take a comprehensive approach. At a minimum, once a decision has been made to pursue implementation of a particular technique, such as open space residential design, community meetings will be needed to answer basic questions about how the model provided will be customized to meet local needs and goals.

Interactive Case Study Map

Municipalities have important choices to make when implementing any of these techniques including the areas within the community where a technique will be applied and the appropriate permitting authority and mechanism. To ensure that choices are made on the basis of a good understanding of citizen desires, communities are encouraged to plan in advance of, and involve the public prior to, implementing any of these techniques. Especially considering that a two-thirds vote at town meeting or by city council will be required for zoning approval, understanding or arriving at a consensus about community objectives and planning techniques is important early in the adoption process. Master, community development, open space, housing, transportation, capital facilities, climate action, and other types of plans all provide a foundation for reaching such consensus; the public process associated with planning greatly increases the odds of adoption.

Comprehensive Planning
in the Urban Setting

Achieving Smart Growth / Smart Energy on the Community Scale

An important point that should be kept in mind when utilizing this Toolkit is that smart growth or smart energy objectives are unlikely to be accomplished via the passage and implementation of a single technique. While each technique in this Toolkit will achieve certain important goals, and move a community in the direction of smart growth and smart energy, a more comprehensive approach is likely to be necessary. Another reason to plan in advance of implementing the measures included in the Toolkit is to determine a mix of techniques necessary to achieve municipal goals. Included below are several typical scenarios illustrating how smart growth and clean energy initiatives often involve a long-term and multi-faceted campaign to realize a community's vision.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers several incentives to implement smart growth/smart energy plans, regulations, and site and building designs. The Commonwealth Capital Policy provides financial incentive to communities to adopt clean energy practices and apply smart growth principles. MGL Chapter 40R provides incentive payments when "smart growth zoning districts" are adopted and, again, when building permits are issued. In addition, agencies of the Commonwealth, including the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, offer technical assistance.

Comprehensive Smart Growth Planning
in the Rural Setting