A few weeks ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) overhauled its website on coastal and waterfront smart growth. Waterfront residences and communities continue to grow even during the shaky economy. NOAA’s site offers explanations and examples for homeowners, builders, designers, and community officials to help make sure that growth doesn’t harm this important natural resource.

The updated site divides waterfront smart growth issues, advice, and case studies into 10 sections or “chapters,” each covering one element crucial to preserving our rivers, lakes, wetlands, and oceans. Each chapter is organized into the same segments for easy navigation. For example, chapter 3 recommends providing a range of housing choices and the segments on that page address the smart growth principle, coastal and waterfront context, tools and techniques, action options, and a case study related to that topic. The site’s “getting started” page explains how to best find and use the information provided. One useful site feature: the NOAA compiles all of the case studies in one place and labels them according to what smart growth principle they demonstrate. The NOAA plans to add more resources and suggested actions throughout the year, with regular updates to follow.