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About Smart Building & Community Design

“Smart Building” is the process of designing and constructing a structure while considering how it will interact with its inhabitants and its environment. Is it a nice place to work? Is it an efficient place to work? Does it take advantage of natural lighting or does it block natural light and require artificial lighting? Does it use natural ventilation or does it require expensive mechanical ventilation? Does it improve, remain neutral to, or negatively impact the surrounding landscape and ecosystems? Is it energy and resource efficient? Will it last? These are all important questions when designing a building.

“Community Design” takes a holistic approach to development, and is mindful that neighborhoods, towns, cities, and even larger systems can be made or broken by their design. Community design not only benefits the human users of a space, but helps preserve and enhance the natural environment as well. Community Design includes the concept of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) which takes advantage of and promotes mass transit systems by placing appealing districts that mix housing, retail, and office space around rail stations and making these systems easy to access and use. A very important facet of community design is that they are developed with extensive community input to ensure that they best serve the people who will live in or interact with these designs on a daily basis.

Why Sea Grant

Increasing coastal development and urbanization pose the greatest risk to the sustainable use and wise stewardship of our coastal, marine and great lakes resources.

Development impacts are eroding achievements in water quality, ecosystem and habitat management, coastal hazard mitigation and other Sea Grant priority areas of concern.

Sea Grant’s adaptive, regional extension, research and education structure is uniquely suited to address coastal development and community design at the local level.


To consolidate university, state, federal and private resources and expertise to support and expand research, resource and educational outreach for policy makers, professional, community leaders, and citizens.


To create and support economically viable, attractive communities that enhance their environment, economy, and culture.