The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading* organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to advocate for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all

*ULI Changemaker Award (2022), Council of Governments Regional Partnership Award (2017), Washington Business Journal’s Power 100 (2012, 2013, and 2015), Catalogue for Philanthropy – One of the region’s best small non-profits (2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016)


Washington Urban Land Institute’s video highlighting our work!

CSG is the product of visionaries from the 1990’s – one a group of non-profit leaders who challenged and defeated the Disney Company’s proposed theme park near Manassas National Battlefield in 1994, and the other, planners who founded the Washington Regional Network for Livable Communities (WRN) in1991. Leaders from the Piedmont Environmental Council, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Audubon Naturalist Society, Clean Water Action, and the Sierra Club, among others, founded CSG in 1997 to challenge the proposed Outer Beltway and to promote a better way to grow in the Washington DC region. WRN and CSG merged in 2007. Per agreement, CSG is legally a part of the Piedmont Environmental Council, a 501(c)3.

Building from WRN’s 1992 report “A New Approach: Integrating Transportation and Development in the National Capital Region,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) “A Better Way to Grow,” and the CBF/Environmental Defense Fund report “A Network of Livable Communities,” CSG has led the way toward a vision of a network of walkable, livable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities, connected to a revitalized District of Columbia by an expanding network of high-capacity transit. That vision, outlined in CSG’s 2002 Blueprint for a Better Region, was endorsed by the Urban Land Institute Reality Check event in 2005, and adopted by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) in its Region Forward Plan of 2010.

Since our founding, we have expanded our partnerships to include advocates for affordable housing, better transit, and safer streets for walking and biking; leading business associations; smart growth development firms; and architecture, planning and transportation consulting firms. In 2017, COG awarded CSG its Regional Partnership Award for its role in building coalitions, working with local and regional governments, and winning a more sustainable vision for the region. We have also been selected three times to the Washington Business Journal’s Power 100. In 2022, we won the Washington Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Changemaker Award.

Where We Work

The Coalition for Smarter Growth works in the greater Washington DC region in the following local jurisdictions: District of Columbia; Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, Maryland; and Fairfax County and Arlington County, and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax, Virginia. We support partners in the outer jurisdictions, especially in Loudoun and Prince William counties in Virginia. We work regionally, at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, and at the state level in Maryland and Virginia.

What is Smart Growth?

Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. 

Smart growth is the solution to common concerns such as traffic congestion; access to jobs, schools, and service; sustainable transportation choices such as walking, biking, and riding transit; more housing choices in mixed-use walkable environments close to transit; and inclusive communities.