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Healthy Built Environment

PHSA's Population and Public Health Program strives to support the creation of built environments that can support physical, mental, and social health and well-being.
Overview

What is the healthy built environment?

The phrase "built environment" refers to the human-made or modified physical surroundings in which people live, work, and play. These places and spaces include our homes, communities, schools, workplaces, parks/recreational areas, business areas, and transportation systems, and vary in size from large-scale urban areas to smaller rural developments. 

How communities are planned and built, and the services and resources provided within them, directly impacts people's physical, mental, and social health. These impacts are reflected in levels of social cohesion, mental and physical fitness, chronic disease, obesity, and injury.

Built environments can support physical, mental and social health and well-being.

How communities are planned and built, and the services and resources provided within them, directly impacts people's physical, mental, and social health. For example, making active transportation convenient and safe has been shown to increase physical activity, walking and cycling, which in turn are linked to decreased unintentional injuries and obesity as well as improved mental health and social connectivity. 

PPH has reviewed the evidence from literature and consulted experts and stakeholders to summarize what is known about the research on health and the built environment. The Healthy Built Environment (HBE) Linkages Toolkit is a groundbreaking evidence-based and expert-informed resource that links planning principles to health outcomes and identifies the behavioural impacts (e.g., walking and transit use) and environmental impacts (e.g., noise and traffic safety) that contribute to those health outcomes.

Healthier built environments are a shared responsibility.

Community planners and design professionals, public health practitioners and local government decision-makers share a responsibility to promote active living and to shape healthier built environments in order to prevent illness and injury and promote health and well-being. Stakeholders can play that role by ensuring that best practices planning policies and practices are undertaken related to the five physical features of the built environment: neighbourhood design, housing, transportation networks, natural environments and food systems.

Improving understanding across sectors can improve the success of HBE work.

A key to success for healthier built environments is developing a shared understanding of HBE's importance and the role everyone has to play. For example, PPH developed a resource to introduce health professionals to planning terms and processes, and to highlight opportunities for their professional involvement in land-use planning. Health 201 is a step-by-step guide that aims to assist planners, design professionals and local government decision-makers to take actions twoards creating healthier built environments. For audiences new to HBE issues, the Foundations for a Healthier Built Environment summary report is an introductory educational resource.

Our activities

The PHSA Population and Public Health Program (PPH) supports the BC Healthy Built Environment (HBE) Alliance, a voluntary intersectoral network that provides leadership and action for healthier, more livable communities. 

Guided by the HBE Alliance, PPH adds value by bringing a wide variety of stakeholders together and by developing tools to encourage and support collaboration between and within sectors to shape healthier built environments in BC.

Reports & resources

Official PHSA-PPH reports and resources produced for/by PPH:

A groundbreaking evidence-based and expert-informed resource that links planning principles to health outcomes.

Audience: Anyone involved in work that affects the built environment.
Released: April, 2014
Survey: * if you are downloading the HBE Linkages Toolkit, please complete a survey to help us understand your needs better.


 
A step-by-step guide that includes a self-assessment tool, a Health and the Built Environment Primer, and a list of relevant references and resources.
Audience: Planners, design professionals and people involved in local government decision-making
Released: March, 2010
 

Introductory report that explains the link between health and the built environment and calls for improved collaboration between thehealth and planning sectors.

Audience: People relatively new to HBE issues or who want to improve intersectoral collaboration
Released: January, 2009
 

Workshop training module introducing health professionals to planning terms and processes.

Audience: Public health professionals
Released: June, 2008
 

List of indicators that provide objective ways to measure and track changes in community status and population health.

Released: July, 2008

 

Report on best practices related to the built environment that address obesity-promoting factors

Released: September, 2007
 

Report highlighting built environment initiatives to increase physical activity and promote health through community planning and design

Other resources that profile PPH:

Released: October, 2007
 

Public Health Agency of Canada report profiles 13 Canadian communities where collaborative approaches to improve health have been a key consideration in planning decisions. Prepared for the Healthy Living Issue Group of the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network.

Released: May, 2009
 

Reports & resources

Official PHSA-PPH reports and resources produced for/by PPH:

A groundbreaking evidence-based and expert-informed resource that links planning principles to health outcomes.

Audience: Anyone involved in work that affects the built environment.
Released: April, 2014
Survey: * if you are downloading the HBE Linkages Toolkit, please complete a survey to help us understand your needs better.


 
A step-by-step guide that includes a self-assessment tool, a Health and the Built Environment Primer, and a list of relevant references and resources.
Audience: Planners, design professionals and people involved in local government decision-making
Released: March, 2010
 

Introductory report that explains the link between health and the built environment and calls for improved collaboration between thehealth and planning sectors.

Audience: People relatively new to HBE issues or who want to improve intersectoral collaboration
Released: January, 2009
 

Workshop training module introducing health professionals to planning terms and processes.

Audience: Public health professionals
Released: June, 2008
 

List of indicators that provide objective ways to measure and track changes in community status and population health.

Released: July, 2008

 

Report on best practices related to the built environment that address obesity-promoting factors

Released: September, 2007
 

Report highlighting built environment initiatives to increase physical activity and promote health through community planning and design

Other resources that profile PPH:

Released: October, 2007
 

Public Health Agency of Canada report profiles 13 Canadian communities where collaborative approaches to improve health have been a key consideration in planning decisions. Prepared for the Healthy Living Issue Group of the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network.

Released: May, 2009
 

SOURCE: Healthy Built Environment ( )
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