The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that the University of Maine Center on Aging and the Portland State University Center for Urban Studies are the winners of its Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging: Training and Demonstration Projects grant competition. Each university program has won a grant of $100,000 for programs that seek to improve the quality of life of older residents through community planning and strategies that support active aging and smart growth.

The University of Maine Center on Aging won the training grant for its proposal of a Maine Senior Environmental Leadership Corps, which would provide older adults interested in learning about smart growth and in influencing smart growth in their communities with leadership and civic engagement training that focuses specially on environmental stewardship and smart growth planning. Under the program, elders will be nominated as delegates to represent their geographic regions at a statewide summit for older adults focused on forward-thinking environmental planning to improve the environment and the health of citizens of all ages. Delegates will then use their acquired skills and knowledge to implement action plans within their communities, with support from the Center on Aging.

Portland State University's Center for Urban Studies won the demonstration grant for its proposal to prove the benefits of the Green Streets for Active Aging program. The project will build on the center's work in the area of green streets and active living by surveying residents in two neighborhoods with green street features and two control neighborhoods, conducting environmental assessments of the green street treatments, and analyzing housing values to demonstrate how green streets contribute to the well-being of communities, to the physical and mental health of older and younger adults, and to the overall environment and economy.