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Sustainability Planning

Sustainable Community Development



The Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Local Government has committed to coordinate partnerships and provide assistance to enhance the sustainability of communities across the state.  Sustainable community development balances social, economic, and environmental responsibility.


The team brings expertise and assistance from the Community Development Office (CDO) and the Colorado Main Street Program, and works closely with our internal division partners including the State Demography Office, the Division of Housing, and the Division of Emergency Management.  DOLA is also collaborating with other state agencies that contribute to sustainable community development.



What is Sustainable Community Development?


Each community will define sustainability differently depending on its curcumstances, history, culture, and values.  One broad defininition that is generally accepted:


"Sustainable development is development

that meets the needs of the present without

compromising the ability of future

generations to meet their own needs."


The fundamental values of sustainability include balancing the social, economic, and environmental needs.  Sustainable community development works to integrate the following:


  • land use
  • sound fiscal planning
  • transportation and mobility
  • economic development and downtown revitalization
  • affordable housing
  • historic and cultural preservation
  • public health and human services
  • educational opportunities and job training
  • natural resource conservation
  • job creation
  • environmental quality
  • food systems and policy
  • energy efficiency and renewables
  • community identity and sense of place
  • natural hazards planning and mitigation




Sustainable community development integrates these elements in order to avoid wasting resources, missed opportunities, narrowly focused decision-making, and reducing communities' overall health and quality of life.


Check out the Colorado Community Sustainability Guide: A Self Assessment Tool for Local GovernmentsContact us if your community wants to help us beta-test the tool.



Tell us what your community is doing to build a more sustainable future!


We want your input!


Sustainability Principles


DOLA integrates planning and investment by partnering with other local, state, and federal agencies to strengthen Colorado communities.  DOLA's approach centers on seven basic sustainable community development principles.  Adapted from the federal sustainability principles agreed upon by the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency, DOLA tailored them to fit Colorado.


Increase economic competitiveness Invest in education and training for the global economy, attract and position employment centers near housing and transit, expand business access and promote rural economic development that preserves and enhances community identity.
Promote equitable, affordable housing Identify, encourage, and invest in quality, energy efficient, affordable housing near jobs, shopping, and public and recreation amenities.
Support existing communities Strategically optimize goal driven infrastructure funding to maximize investment, support long term viability, and revitalize communities.
Provide more transportation choices Improve safe, reliable, and affordable transportation choices to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality; create transit-oriented neighborhoods with biking and walking opportunities.
Conserve, responsibly utilize, and protect valuable natural resources Focus investments which plan for and conserve a clean water supply, imporve air quality, protect natural resources, and promote local and regional food systems, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.
Value healthy communities and neighborhoods Support unique and historic community characteristics by investing in quality schools, prosperous and sustainable downtowns, and healthy, safe, walkable neighborhoods.
Enhance integrated planning and investment Align policies to remove barriers, maximize and leverage funding, and increase accountability and effectiveness of government programs.



Sample Sustainability Plans


Some communities and regions in Colorado have adopted Sustainability Plans.  These long-range planning mechanisms are aimed at guiding the community by balancing social equity, environmental, and economic conditions while tying together the community's goals, strategies, and implementation actions.  A sustainability plan may include elements such as energy-efficiency, land use, transporation, the built environment, public health, renewable energy, economic development, and more.  When integrated, these elements help to improve the community's quality of life for generations to come.