Select CNU Accomplishments

CNU Logo Since its founding in 1993, CNU has been instrumental in changing the way we build our cities and towns. Below is a listing of a just a few of our many accomplishments:

  • In 1996, CNU members ratified the Charter of the New Urbanism at CNU’s fourth annual Congress. The Charter outlines principles for building better communities, from the scale of the region down to the block. The Charter’s 27 principles articulate an alternative vision for growth and development and serve as the guide for our movement.

  • Each year, CNU holds an international Congress, which attracts approximately 1300 architects, developers, citizen activists, planners and engineers. The Congress is the world’s leading venue for gathering the world’s most distinguished and visionary new urbanist thinkers and practitioners. Past speakers have included Richard Florida, Ed Glaeser, Robert Caro, Henry Cisneros and former Deputy Prime Minister of England John Prescott, among many, many others.

  • The Congress for the New Urbanism’s Charter Awards recognize excellence in architectural, landscape, and urban designs built in harmony with their physical, environmental and social contexts. Since 2001, the Charter Awards program has drawn thousands of submissions from around the world, cementing itself as a global award for excellence in urban design and showcasing the positive impacts of new urbanist development.

  • Throughout the 1990’s, CNU established a close working relationship with the US Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) and its then-Secretary Henry Cisneros. Working with Cisneros and other officials in the Clinton Administration, CNU created the design criteria for the HOPE VI program. HOPE VI has been a transformative program that rehabilitated some of the most deteriorated and isolated public housing facilities in the nation into vibrant mixed-income neighborhoods that are integral parts of the broader community.

  • CNU’s founding Charter was a source for the Sustainable Communities partnership between the HUD, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Department of Transportation (DOT). The partnership seeks to improve access to affordable housing and provide for multi-modal, low-cost transportation options that protect and respect the needs of the surrounding environment.

  • LEED-ND ButtonPartnering with the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), CNU helped to create LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND), the first system in the US for rating and certifying entire neighborhoods as green. LEED-ND encourages development teams, planners, and local governments to construct sustainable, compact neighborhoods with the principles of traditional city and town design—as promoted by CNU—serving as essential guidelines for creation.
  • CNU’s Highways-to-Boulevards initiative directly addresses the need to convert aging, elevated urban highways into surface-level, value-adding boulevards. CNU-supported campaigns to replace elevated highways with walkable, bikeable, and connected streets have taken place in Seattle, WA; Buffalo, NY; and New Orleans, LA, and other cities across the nation.

  • Along with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Federal Highway Administration (FHA), and EPA, CNU has co-produced the manual Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach, a guidebook of best practices for the proper design and implementation of context-sensitive solutions (CSS) in transect-based planning. Since the manual’s release, over 1,500 individuals have downloaded copies of the report from the ITE website, and the manual has been adopted as a recommended practice by the City of El Paso and Texas DoT.

  • A companion to Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach, CNU and a select group of its members have released the beautifully illustrated booket, the Sustainable Street Network Principles.

  • Through its Live/Work/Walk initiative, CNU is leading the effort to reform federal housing finance underwriting rules that prevent the development of mixed commercial-residential districts. In partnership with the National Town Builders Association (NTBA), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the National Association of REALTORS®, and many more coalition partners, CNU is pushing FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD's 220 and 221(d)4 programs to raise the cap on commercial space in mixed-use developments. CNU has made significant progress for the removal of these mixed-use restrictions, with FHA recently revising the commercial cap for condominiums from 25% to 35%, with possible waivers up to 50% commercial space. Removing the regulations would allow for developers and consumers alike to take advantage of the growing demand for walkable, sustainable and diverse neighborhoods in a variety of settings.