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Creating Sustainable Communities:
A Guide for Developers and Communities

Creating a high quality of life in New Jersey’s communities is a shared goal of government, residents and businesses.  Though there are numerous factors that contribute to livable and desirable communities, the essential elements are: a healthy environment, a vibrant economy and a community that is inclusive, safe and effectively governed.  A leading and growing strategy to help create such municipalities is the concept of sustainability or sustainable development.  This approach came into general use after the 1987 UN World Commission on Environment and Development coined what was to become the most well-known definition: sustainable development is development that "meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."  More simply, sustainability focuses on providing the best outcomes for both the human and natural environments now, and into the indefinite future.

A Guide for Developers and Communities

This guide provides a series of fact sheets on a wide array of sustainable practices and technologies.  Each fact sheet includes: the benefits from implementing the practice, how it relates to and helps us address a state goal or policy, a description of the practice or technology, sources of State government assistance, and sources of additional information.

The Office of Planning and Sustainable Communities intends to update and refine these fact sheets as experience and knowledge grows.  We encourage feedback from users and other readers as we strive to continually improve the value and practicality of this guidance.  Please direct any comments to Athena Sarafides.

Outline (not all sections are available for download)

I. Local Land Use Planning / Sustainable Location and Capacity 

This section addresses large-scale land use planning concerns that should determine the most environmentally appropriate areas ready for growth and redevelopment.  Before implementing many of the techniques discussed in later sections, it is imperative to address the macro-level locational and planning issues described in this section.  The series of fact sheets will demonstrate clear linkages with regulatory programs and existing state policies (Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) rules, Readiness Checklist, Smart Growth, etc.)  Topics include:

  1. General Planning
  2. Capacity-Based Planning
  3. Waste Management

II. Healthy and Sustainable Communities

This section focuses on some of the actions that municipalities and developers can take to protect human health, resolve long-standing environmental problems and improve quality of life in the context of sustainable development. Many of the areas that are now being targeted for development are located in urban communities, where low-income and minority residents have historically coexisted with industry and as a result find themselves affected by a broad range of environmental and health burdens. As we all learn from the mistakes of the past, we now have an opportunity and a responsibility to remedy much of this damage and prevent future harm.  Topics include:

  1. Reduction of Toxics
  2. Access to Green Space
  3. Remediation and Redevelopment of Contaminated Sites

III.  Sustainable Project Design and Technology

This section addresses issues as they relate to green design and technology.  It focuses on practices, design techniques and technologies that minimize the environmental impact of the project at the neighborhood, site and structural levels.  Furthermore, this section provides information to enable environmentally-sustainable development and redevelopment projects.  Topics include:

  1. Low Impact Site Design
  2. Water
    • Indoor Water Conservation (under development)

  3. Environmentally-Friendly Building Materials
  4. Building Reuse and Adaptive Reuse
  5. Energy Sustainability & Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction


This fact sheet series was made possible by the valuable contributions and time of the following individuals:

NJ Department of Environmental Protection

Department of Community Affairs


United Nations. 1987. "Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development." General Assembly Resolution 42/187, 11 December 1987.


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Last Updated: January 10, 2019