Healthy Built Environment

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Aspects of the built environment, including man-made and natural features, impact human health directly and indirectly through air quality, traffic injuries, and toxic substances. These aspects can also modify and influence physical activity levels, social connectedness and interactions, access to healthy foods, mobility, and housing quality. Many of these environmental and social determinants contribute to the rising prevalence of chronic diseases and related health conditions in the Canadian population. The Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada 2017 – Designing Healthy Living emphasizes the linkages between the built environment and chronic diseases and conditions. Her report also advocates for collaboration between local governments and other sectors to create healthier communities through neighbourhoods and designs that support healthy behaviours and lifestyles.

This collection of resources:

  • Introduces environmental health and public health practitioners to the field of healthy built environment (HBE);
  • Provides the rationale for environmental health and public health involvement in promoting healthy communities;
  • Help to identify opportunities for multisectoral discussions and collaborations
  • Assists with program planning in HBE work.

NCCEH Resources

  • Food Deserts and Food Swamps: A Primer (2017)
    This primer discusses related health implications, provides the rationale for consideration by non-nutrition professionals, and highlights some opportunities for action and collaboration with provincial and municipal governments, as well as business operators.

Selected External Organizations and Resources

  • Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium (CANUE)
    The mission of CANUE is to bring together research and policy to increase scientific understanding of how physical features of the urban environment impact health, to promote the development of policies and interventions that will reduce the burden of chronic diseases and minimize the impact of changing environments.
  • Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) Resource Library
    This website contains a collection of resources related to planning, organized by topics including healthy communities, climate change, transportation, indigenous peoples, and northern communities.
  • Built Environment Project Page (National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy)
    This webpage outlines the publications, presentations, and other resources related to HBE available from the NCCHPP, including areas such as active transportation, road design, and more.
  • Public Health and Planning 101 (Ontario Public Health Association, 2016)
    This online course aims to bridge the gaps between the understanding of health and built environment for public health and planning professionals to provide greater opportunities for partnership and the creation of HBE.
  • Healthy Communities Policy Guide (American Planning Association, 2017)
    This guide identifies policy options for government officials and land use planners to build, improve, and promote healthy communities and man-made environments, and integrate health in planning decisions.
Last updated Sep 25, 2018