Annual Report: Research

Climate change. Natural disasters. Obesity and chronic diseases. Clean energy. Green infrastructure. These critical national issues have daily impacts in our streets and neighborhoods. APA Research and its partner organizations are expanding knowledge and developing tools to help planners meet these and other challenges as they work to create vital communities.

Hazards Planning

Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning DivisionAs the cost of natural disasters escalates, planners are paying more attention to potential hazards and public safety. Establishment in early 2015 of the APA Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division gave clear evidence that members' interest in this subject is growing.

The Hazards Planning Center focuses on three areas where planners have the most to contribute to public policy and action: mitigating hazards, recovering from disasters, and adapting to climate change.

Digital Coast PartnershipAs one of eight partners in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Digital Coast Partnership, APA supports coastal planning and resource management with data, tools, and training. We work with the Association of State Floodplain Managers on a pair of FEMA-funded projects: Subdivision Design in Flood Hazard Areas and a series of Planning Information Exchange webinars that provide training on best practices in hazard mitigation planning.

Other partners include the Nature Conservancy, the University of California–San Diego, the National Charrette Institute, and the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center.


APA's partnership with the American Public Health Association started small, engaging built-environment professionals in public health causes. When a significant funding opportunity from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arose, APA and APHA were ready; a solid relationship and shared vision were already in place. The APA/APHA Plan4Health project, managed by the Planning and Community Health Center, is now a thriving collaboration encompassing 35 coalitions in 27 states. By reaching more than 80,000 planning and public health professionals across the country, the power of partnering extends both organizations' outreach.

Plan4Health Coalitions


Grace Kyung – St. Louis Plan4Health Coalition

Green Communities

The Green Communities Center collaborated with the Conservation Fund to develop a green infrastructure vision and implementation toolkit for the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition. Nationally, APA teamed with Georgia Tech's Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development on "Multimodal Planning at the Megaregional Scale" to develop guidelines for integrating multiregional awareness into comprehensive and long-range transportation plans. Both projects will result in new tools and resources for planners in 2016. And a new two-year project stemming from our Great Urban Parks collaboration with the National Recreation and Park Association will bring green infrastructure to parks in underserved communities.

APA's latest contribution to the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership is Solar Powering Sunnyside, a hands-on planning exercise that uses game play to help community members understand solar development options. Test the game yourself at the National Planning Conference in Phoenix!

Sustaining Places

Sustaining Places: Best Practices for Comprehensive Plans

APA's multi-year initiative to define the role of the comprehensive plan in addressing the sustainability of human settlements produced Sustaining Places: Best Practices for Comprehensive Plans. This 2015 PAS report establishes a framework and standards for communities to integrate sustainability principles and best practices into their comprehensive plans. After a survey of APA members indicated strong support for the idea, APA began developing a voluntary program to recognize exemplary plans that meet the standards.


Jumping on the #StraightOutta bandwagon via our Instagram:

Posted by American Planning Association on Thursday, August 13, 2015

Infographics: Susan Lee Deegan

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