At Inhabitat, we are often seduced by precious products and elegantly designed dwellings, intoxicated by the cutting edge approach to sustainability. While this technology and beauty is alluring, it?s important to recognize broader progress toward a more livable planet through urban redevelopment and government policies. On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced five communities to win a National Award for Smart Growth Achievement for 2005.

One of the more intriguing (and completed) projects to receive an award is the redevelopment of the abandoned Elitch Gardens amusement park, five miles from downtown Denver.

The Denver Urban Renewal Authority partnered with private developers (Perry Rose, LLC.) to construct the mixed use Highlands’ Garden Village. Together, the team pushed the city to modify existing zoning allowances to accommodate narrower ?skinny? streets, smaller lots, and a wider variety of home choices.

The EPA?s Smart Growth program encourages more livable and environmentally friendly developments. An extensive brochure is available highlighting their ten driving principles:
1. Mix Land Uses
2. Take Advantage of Compact Building Design
3. Create a Range of Housing Opportunities and Choices
4. Create Walkable Neighborhoods
5. Foster Distinctive, Attractive Communities with a Strong Sense of Place
6. Preserve Open Space, Farmland, Natural Beauty, and Critical Environmental Areas
7. Strengthen and Direct Development Towards Existing Communities
8. Provide a Variety of Transportation Choices
9. Make Development Decisions Predictable, Fair, and Cost Effective
10. Encourage Community and Stakeholder Collaboration in Development Decisions

+ National Award for Smart Growth Achievement