D5 – Integrated Process for Community Health Promotion: An Interactive Workshop

Cumberland 5

Touching every aspect of our lives, the built environment is a powerful determinant of both individual and population health. While the public health sector has developed a robust understanding of the relationship between health and the human-made spaces in which we live, work and play, it has been limited in its ability to effectively influence the built environment. The Green Health Partnership – a research and development initiative comprised of industry experts in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Virginia School of Medicine – was founded on the idea that the lessons learned by the green building movement could provide the public health sector with guidance on how to transform the built environment. This presentation from public health professional, Meghan Hazer, who helped develop the credit and Corie Baker, a senior architect at Gresham Smith, explores how the Green Health Partnership’s effort in developing the LEED v4 BD+C Rating System’s Integrative Process for Health Promotion pilot credit can guide the prioritization of design decisions based on both project- and community-specific health needs.

The Integrative Process for Health Promotion was inspired by the integrative process from green building as well as health impact assessments from public health – a structured approach to placing health as a decision-making lens to inform decisions at a variety of scales within a variety of sectors. An integrative process aims to bring together all members of the project team at the beginning of the project to take advantage of synergies and collaborative, diverse thinking that would lead to a more positive environmental impact.

The same process can be applied to health promotion using four key steps. The first step involves the project team collaborating a public health practitioner to engage the community impacted by the project. The team uses this engagement, along with existing community health data, to understand the impacted population’s health needs. The project team then considers how they might address those needs through the design, construction and operation of the project and prioritizes strategies accordingly. In the final part of the process, the team documents how the impacts of those decisions might be monitored and measured over time.

This workshop will allow participants to experience this integrative process first hand. Participants will break up into small groups made up of a representatives from different disciplines. Each group will be given a case study project to explore as part of the exercise. Each team will start by reviewing the available demographic information, health impact assessments and community needs assessments for the project locations. This research will result in identifying the key public health concerns for the communities, which may include impacts such as socioeconomic insecurity, access to health care, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, oral health, etc. Then, through a brainstorming session, each team will develop a list of strategies that could be incorporated into the facility –  either through design or programming – that would help address some of the major health concerns in the project area. Strategies might range from active stair design and bottle-filling water fountains, to concerts and health fairs on a plaza, to a partnerships with local grocery stores to highlight healthy dinner recipes. Supporting high-performance, cost-effective and health-promoting project outcomes, the Integrative Process for Health Promotion pilot credit is available for use within the LEED pilot credit library; however, any project can incorporate the process, whether they are pursuing LEED certification or not. Through a collaborative approach working with public health practitioners and leveraging public health information, designers are able to better understand public health concerns and design the built environment in a way that contributes to improved community health conditions.