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Land Use Planning and Design

In cooperation with the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NEHA is partnering with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) to educate environmental public health professionals and local government managers about the strategic advantages of integrating health goals and land use planning and design decisions.  Specifically, NEHA and ICMA have developed four case studies highlighting exceptional or creative solutions in local government that integrate environmental health considerations into land use planning and design.  Currently, the full Tri-County Health Department, Ingham County Health Department, Seattle-King County Health Department, and Delaware County Health Department case studies are available here.  Also, don't miss "Role of Environmental Health Professionals in Improving the Built Environment," published in the July/August 2008 issue of the Journal of Environmental Health.

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 various 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.

If you have any examples of policies and/or programs that you feel are innovative or progressive in any way and that involve interaction between environmental public health professionals and local government managers/administrators, please contact Elizabeth Landeen, Assistant Manager, (860) 351-5099.  For useful Web sites on the issue of land use planning and design and environmental public health please see below:

Other Resources

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.

Walking and Bicycling to School: Community Presentation

CDC Kidswalk-to-School: A Guide to Promote Walking to School

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.

Active Living and Social Equity: Creating Healthy Communities for All Residents Year: 2005; Pages: 24

Local Government Commission (LGC), Center for Livable Communities is a national initiative of the Local Government Commission (LGC). LGC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization of elected officials, city and county staff and other interested individuals throughout California and other states. The Center for Livable Communities helps local governments and community leaders adopt programs and policies that lead to more livable and resource-efficient land use patterns.


Neighborhood-Scale Planning Tools to Create Active, Livable Communities

Community Design Fact Sheets for Safe Streets and Healthy Communities Fact Sheets in English

Traffic Calming and Emergency Response

Street Design and Emergency Response

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