Just Communities Protocol

We’re pleased to announce the release of the Just Communities Protocol

The new Just Communities Protocol 1.0 is a comprehensive and practical implementation framework and verification standard to unlock the power of resident leaders, community-based organizations, developers, and municipalities in advancing racially equitable and environmentally regenerative development of our built environment.

It is designed to help deliver meaningful social, economic, and environmental outcomes in the areas of civic participation, housing, economic development, transportation, public health, safety, food, parks and open space, energy, water, and environmental protection.

The new Just Communities Protocol represents the next generation of the EcoDistricts Protocol v.1.3 – reimagined with the input from over eighty leading equitable and sustainable development practitioners.

Our goal is to spark a new generation of community-scale development that effectively respond to our two most pressing challenge of our time – rising inequality and global warming.

The Just Communities Protocol Includes:

  • Comprehensive set of 22 objectives, indicators, and targets to help communities make decisions and measure impact.
  • 17 Actions or implementation tasks to help communities move through the phases of development – from planning to implementation.
  • Practical tools to improve racial equity and climate resilience outcomes.
  • Resources to support collaboration, trust building, and alignment between community, public agencies, developers, and investors.
  • Guidance to identify key trends and baseline current conditions.
  • Key strategies to help communities design, implement, and resource a comprehensive implementation work plan.
  • Online resources, case studies, and best practices to support learning and knowledge transfer.
  • Technical assistance and support for communities seeking recognition through certification and practitioners seeking professional credentialing.
  • Represents the next generation of the EcoDistricts Protocol 1.3.

History of the Protocol

The genesis of the Just Communities Protocol can be traced to Portland, Oregon in 2009 when the Portland Sustainability Institute (PoSI) created the first EcoDistricts white paper. PoSI’s founder Rob Bennett drew inspiration from catalytic district-scale projects in the region including Portland’s South Waterfront and Brewery Blocks, Seattle’s South Lake Union, and Vancouver’s SE False Creek neighborhood, home to the 2010 Winter Olympics Athlete Village (and considered by many to be the finest example of environmental and social sustainability in urban development). Bennett saw a need and opportunity to build an implementation framework that drew lessons from these projects, with the goal of quickening the pace of urban and community development dedicated to advancing equity, resilience and climate action.

In the early 2010’s PoSI assembled regional and national experts across a range of disciplines to design the first performance-based implementation framework to guide and manage district and neighborhood scale redevelopment in the US, the EcoDistricts Framework. First published in May 2013, it became the inspiration for launching a new nonprofit, EcoDistricts, to promote neighborhood and district-scale equitable and sustainable development.

In 2016, EcoDistricts published the follow-up to the Framework, called the EcoDistricts Protocol and began designing a professional credentialing and project certification program to spark market transformation. The Protocol was informed by 100 expert advisors, comprehensive roundtables, listening sessions, peer review milestones, and field testing across more than 16 projects throughout North America between 2014-2016. Details regarding the process can be found here.

Between 2016 and 2018, EcoDistricts published four versions of the Protocol culminating in the release of the EcoDistricts Protocol 1.3 in 2018, which was the last update before the launch of the 2024 Just Communities Protocol 1.0.


The Just Communities Protocol is the work of many hands. Between 2021-2023, we convened a number of meetings with a number of national equitable and sustainable development leaders to help shape the new Protocol. We are grateful for the thoughtful feedback and inspired ideas from the following advisors:

  • Abigail Baum, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
  • Adam Friedberg, Buro Happold
  • Adele Houghton, biositu
  • Adrie Fourie, Solid Green Consulting
  • Anna Rosenblum, Evolve EA
  • Andrea Armeni, Transform Finance
  • Andy Schneggenburger, Porch & Square
  • Dr Angela Scott, International Well Building Institute
  • Ashley Cox, Evolve EA
  • Ashleigh Gardere, PolicyLink
  • Bill Reed, Regenesis
  • Beth Sawin, Multisolving Institute
  • Bronson Johnson, Next Infrastructure, LLC
  • Catherine Cox Blaire, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Charles Kelley, Green Urban Design
  • Cheneé Joseph, Historic District Development Corporation
  • Christine Mondor, Evolve EA
  • Dr. Chuck Barlow Jr., Saving Our Sons & Sisters International
  • Claire Bonham Carter, Bay Area Council
  • Daphne Bond-Godfrey, Urban Land Institute (ULI) Atlanta
  • Darnell Johnson, Urban Efficiency Group
  • Dawn Phillips, Right to the City
  • Deb Guenther, Mithun
  • Destiny Thomas, Thrivance Group
  • Don Phoenix, Neighborworks
  • Donna Moody, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
  • Doug Sims, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Ellen Bassett, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Elke Davidson, Davidson Consulting
  • Erica Holloman-Hill, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance
  • Erin Barnes, Main Street America
  • Ernest Brown, YIMBY Action
  • Ernst Valery, SAA I EVI
  • Faron Hill, Peregrine Oak
  • Freddie Stevens, Grove Park Foundation
  • Gail Latimore, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation
  • Grant Erwin, S&B USA Construction
  • Helen Chin, Communities First
  • Irwin Lowenstein, ReThink Advisors
  • Jessica Daniels, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • John Hammond, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Joel Alvarado, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Julian Agyeman, Tufts University
  • Wyking Garrett, Africatown Land Trust
  • Karen Babino, Atlanta Land Trust
  • Kaziem Woodbury, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Kimberly Lewis, International Well Building Institute
  • Kirsten Cook, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Kofi Boone, North Carolina State University
  • Kristin Leiber, Lloyd EcoDistrict
  • Kyle Kessler, Center for Civic Innovation
  • Lauren Welsh, Little 5 Points Community Improvement District
  • Majestic Lane, Allegheny Conference on Community Development
  • Marissa Ramirez, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Mary Wilson, UBUNTU Community Catalysts
  • Meg Jamison, Southeast Sustainability Directors Network
  • Meghan Venable-Thomas, City of Birmingham, AL
  • Melonie Tharpe, Common Future
  • Michele Hanson, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Monet Wright, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Nazanin Mehrin, Mithun
  • Naomi Cole, Konstrukt
  • Nathaniel Smith, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Nwamaka Agbo, Kataly Foundation
  • Omar Carrillo Tinajero, Center for Community Investment
  • Pete Munoz, Biohabitats
  • Rachel MacCleery, Urban Land Institute (ULI)
  • Rasheedah Philips, PolicyLink
  • Rob Bennett, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Roberto Morales, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Robyn Bussey, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Sagirah Jones, PropelATL
  • Stephanie Gidigbi-Jenkins, Communities First
  • Steven Baumgartner, Baumgartner Urban Systems Strategy
  • Sophie Lambert, Willowsford Conservancy
  • Suzanne Burnes, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Tamika Butler, Tamika Butler Consulting
  • Sterling Johnson, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Tasha Garrison, City of College Park
  • Tene Traylor, Urban Institute
  • Tim Block, Enterprise Community Partners
  • Tom Osdoba, Climate-KIC
  • Tony Pickett, Grounded Solutions Network
  • Tsedey Betru, BeTru Consulting
  • Victoria Johnson, HDR