WASHINGTON­ — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized projects in seven communities as winners of the 2013 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in a ceremony today, according to a press release.

The projects were recognized for their creative, sustainable initiatives that better protect health and the environment while strengthening local economies, noted the release.

Read more on the EPA here.

"The winning projects show us that we can develop, grow local economies and protect public health and the environment all at the same time,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “These projects also act as models for others, so they too can chart their own path toward healthier, more sustainable communities.”

The 2013 winners were judged in five categories: Overall excellence; corridor or neighborhood revitalization; plazas, parks and public places; policies, programs and plans; and built projects, the release reported.

According to the release, specific initiatives include cleaning up and reusing brownfields, using green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff and improve water quality, providing transportation options and providing green, energy-efficient housing in low-income areas.

Read the full release here