By Iris Richmond. A Washington, D.C., coalition called the Smart Growth Alliance (SGA) wants to put its stamp of approval on project proposals in Maryland, Virginia, and the District that exemplify smart-growth principles. The SGA (comprising members from five organizations: Urban Land Institute, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Coalition for Smarter Growth, and Metropolitan Washington Builders' Council) wants to help get projects on the approval fast track and hopes its endorsement will do the trick.

The projects selected receive a letter acknowledging the SGA's approval and support and may get additional support from the coalition, such as having alliance members attend zoning meetings or talk to members of the media. Even projects that don't make the cut possibly may get advice from the group.

In shaping the program, the SGA looked to similar groups for guidance, including the Smart Growth Matrix in Austin, Texas, and the Greenbelt Alliance in San Francisco. Applications are accepted on a quarterly basis and must show that a project meets criteria such as accessibility to public transportation, walkability, protection of open space, water conservation, and provision of affordable housing.

Photo: Geoffrey Booth

"There has been a problem with good projects getting through," says SGA chair Robert Harris, managing partner at the law firm Holland and Knight. "It will level the playing field to have a credible group supporting an important project." Visit for more details.

Published in BIG BUILDER Magazine, September 2002