Built Environment

Built Environment / Smart Growth

Environmental public health professionals, planners, architects, transportation engineers, county managers, etc. and the community all play an important role to ensure that communities have healthy environments and support healthy behaviors. These disciplines must collaboratively work toward: protecting the air and water quality and open space, ensuring social equity, developing and connecting sidewalks, trails and paths, streets, and nearby services to encourage physical activity such as walking and bicycling, and providing curb cuts for those with mobility impairments.

Land use planning/design decisions can have negative consequences on public health, ranging from obesity and chronic disease (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, cancer) to injuries related to traffic and pedestrian safety, and even psychological stress. Additionally, planning and design decisions have a direct bearing on access to health care, housing, schools, jobs, and overall quality of life of citizens. Given the range of health implications related to land use planning and design, it is pertinent that health considerations are an integral part of any land use and transportation process.


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center of Environmental Health
  • International City/County Management Association
  • Smart Growth Online
  • Active Living by Design is a national program of RWJF and is a part of the UNC School of Public Health in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Extensive information and tools are available under the "Resources" section of the site, including downloadable presentations, publications, and links.
  • Active Living Leadership is a three-year national initiative of the RWJF to support state and local government leaders in their efforts to create and promote places, spaces, and policies that enable active living.
  • Active Living Research is a national program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created to stimulate and support research that will identify environmental factors and policies that influence physical activity. Findings are expected to inform environmental and policy changes that will promote active living among Americans.
  • American Planning Association (APA) and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are organized to advance the art and science of planning and to foster the activity of planning--physical, economic, and social--at the local, regional, state, and national levels.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Development, Community and Environment Division. The EPA collaborates with public, private and non-profit organizations to assess the environmental implications of development practices, provide technical support and information to communities, foster partnerships among stakeholders that enable local formulation and implementation of development solutions, and reward developers and localities whose actions and policies result in environmentally sound development.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interaction between people and their environments, natural as well as human-made, continues to emerge as a major issue concerning public health. This area of the Web site provides a variety of resources and information on the various health concerns related to the natural and built environment.
  • The ACEs initiative encourages environmental and policy interventions that will affect increased levels of physical activity and improved public health. ACEs responds to data suggesting that characteristics of our communities such as proximity of facilities, street design, density of housing, availability of public transit and of pedestrian and bicycle facilities play a significant role in promoting or discouraging physical activity.
  • International City/County Management Association (ICMA) is the professional and educational association for appointed administrators and assistant administrators serving cities, counties, other local governments, and regional entities around the world. ICMA is also the organizational "home" for the Smart Growth Network.