Dubuque, Iowa, is one city getting a leg up from the feds as it tries to revitalize its downtown. Photo courtesy SD Dirk via Flickr

The word “silos” is most often used to talk about grain or coal, not the federal government. But in the case of transportation and housing — two sectors that accounted for more than 43 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions in 2008 — Washington’s siloed approach of divided, blindered policymaking could put wheat farmers to shame.

The Obama administration is starting to break down those barriers between agencies, asking the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to smart growth. Dubbed the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the effort aims to provide federal support for localities that want to offer more walkable neighborhoods and cleaner commuting options than the car.