Smart Growth

Smart School Siting Tool

User Guide and Workbooks

School locations and community development are closely linked.

  • School locations affect community land use patterns and infrastructure investments.
  • Local land use, roads, utilities, and community investment priorities affect where schools are located. 

Cover of The Smart School Siting Tool User GuideCommunity decisions to site schools and make other investments influence housing and transportation choices, neighborhood vitality, economic development, the cost of providing local services, environmental quality, and overall community health and well-being.

The strong connections between school location and community development suggest the importance of coordinating school siting with other community decisions. However, in many communities, these decision-making processes are disconnected.

Improved coordination between school and local government agencies can result in:

  • More efficient land use patterns and transportation systems to provide environmental and health benefits.
  • More efficient use of taxpayer dollars.
  • Better learning environments and educational outcomes.

EPA developed the Smart School Siting Tool under its Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program to help school agencies and other local government agencies work together to better align school siting and other community development decisions. The tool includes:

  • A User Guide (PDF) (33 pp, 826 K, About PDFthat explains the links between school siting and community impacts and describes how to use the tool.
  • The Assessment & Planning Workbook (Excel) (9 pp, 2 MB), which helps a community understand how well its school siting process is coordinated with land use and other community planning processes.
  • The Site Comparison Workbook (Excel) (13 pp, 866 K), which helps a community evaluate and compare candidate sites for a new or renovated school.

Find more resources on smart growth and school siting.

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.