Regional Tool Kit: Sustainable Design

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)

Definition: The concentration of development at central intersections or activity nodes along public transit corridors, which are usually either light rail or bus (rapid transit) routes (Mokowitze and Lindbloom, 2007).


•    Utilized to maximize transit ridership by locating housing and/or employment within a short walking distance (2,000 feet) of a transit stop
•    Used in higher density urban areas or neighborhoods to connect main transit or feeder lines to activity centers
•    Creates compact, mixed-use development, nodal activity and access within a greater context
•    Decreases automobile dependency and increases multi-modal activity, particularly walkability


Palo Alto, CA Transit Oriented Development:
Pleasant Hill BART Station, CA Regulating Plan TOD:
City of Calgary, CA TOD Best Practices Handbook, 2004:
“Smart Communities: Zoning for TOD” by Marya Morris, November 2002:
Peter Calthorpe, The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community & the American Dream: Princeton Architectural Press, Inc: New York, NY 1993.



Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND)/Neighborhood/Urban Design

Definition: An approach to land-use planning and urban design that promotes the building of pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods with a mix of uses, housing types and costs, lot sizes and density, architectural variety, a central meeting place such as a town square, a network of narrow streets and alleys and defined boundaries and edges (M&L, 2007). Traditional neighborhood design and development standards may also be regulated by form-based codes. Considered an alternative to conventional zoning practices, form-based code may be adopted as a regulatory practice by cities or counties to promote preferred architectural and design guidelines. The standards defined by the community may include architecture, landscape design, public space, and signage to name a few. Such guidelines are intended to foster a high-quality public realm where the relationship between form, scale of buildings and types of streets is improved. Form-based code often includes a regulating plan, building form standards, public space standards, images and definitions.


•    Creates a clearly defined and recognized neighborhood or downtown setting
•    Decreases dependency on the automobile, utilizing mixed-use patterns (horizontally and vertically) where people can live, work and play
•    Allows higher densities and encourages mass transit
•    Uses scale, form, and design standards to create an engaging and walkable neighborhood and streetscape
•    Creates connectivity within neighborhood streetscape and surrounding context
•    Allows for attractive, central, and accessible public spaces



Variety of TND examples Municipal Research and Services Center Washington:
Atlanta Regional Commission, Traditional Neighborhood Development:
“A Model Ordinance for TND”, prepared by Brian W. Ohm, James A. LaGro, Jr., and Chuck Strawser, University of Wisconsin Extension, 04/2001:
City of Davis, CA Residential Design Standards for TND:
Form-Based Codes information and resources:
Spartanburg, SC Downtown Code:

Main Street Program and Complete Streets

(Downtown Revitalization) (, APA)

Definition: Streets, whether a main street or in a neighborhood, is a visual corridor for pedestrians as well as for automobile and bike traffic. It includes a definitive public realm (sidewalks, street trees etc) and relates to the adjacent land uses, building forms, and corresponding arterial roadways. Engaging streets are supported by a variety of human activities and not defined by the automobile and parking. In vibrant areas, streets should include clearly defined pedestrian realms and an opportunity for multi-modal activity and integration of activities, land uses and public spaces.


•    Permits a compact and engaging economic environment and activity corridor with mixed-use urban form
•    Creates aesthetically pleasing streetscape orienting the pedestrian in outdoor rooms between engaging building facades and multi-modal transportation arterial
•    Creates walkable and safe environment


“Ten Tips for Designing a Consumer Friendly Downtown.” Brodeur, Mark (APA, April 2003):
“Little Rock’s Big Downtown Plans.” Clift, Zoie (APA, December 2005):
“A Manual for Small Downtowns.” Farrigan, Tracey & Martin Shields (Penn State University, April 2001):
Downtown Research and Development Center:
Municipal Association of South Carolina, Main Street Program:
“Planting Parks to Remedy Blight.” Fortin, Kristopher (Atlantic Cities, November, 2011):

   Franklin, TN (preservationnation)                               Greenville, SC


Neighborhood Preservation Programs

Definition: Municipalities may establish neighborhood preservation and service programs that provide a support network as well as coordination between city officials, planning staff, and neighborhood representatives and citizens. The establishments of such programs provide opportunities for specific area planning, historic and character area preservation and community program and outreach services such as education or community gardening initiatives (


•    Establishes a relationship between neighborhoods and city officials regarding specific planning issues
•    Supports the creation of small area or neighborhood master plans
•    Creates alternative outlets for citizen participation
•    Reinforces concepts of community identity and strengthens neighborhood activities and coordination


“A Best Practices Toolkit for Historic Preservation and Redevelopment: Building Community.” (National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2002):

“A Neighborhood Association Toolkit: A Guide for neighborhood Associations (City of Phoenix, AZ):
“Neighborhood Preservation Plan,” Charleston, SC (2007):
“Neighborhood Preservation Through Overlays- Tools and Techniques.” Kansas Chapter APA Conference,   October 7, 2010:


Neighborhood Schools

Schools are important considerations for residential neighborhoods, especially in areas intended primarily for households with children.  Neighborhood schools create a safe environment where children can walk and bike to school.  In addition, school facilities can provide the neighborhood population a place for non-school recreation, community meetings, and adult education.  Ideally, an elementary school would have an average of 800 pupils, coming from a quarter mile radius (Urban Land Use Planning, 414).  Larger schools may be more efficient in terms of construction and management, but increased busing quickly absorbs the savings, further dwarfed by the hidden costs of parents driving and waiting in the carline.  (The Smart Growth Manual, 5.7)

Students attending an elementary school within a New Urbanist community in Chapel Hill, NC use a variety of transportation modes in route to school.