Where we live, work and play can directly impact our physical and mental health. To more aggressively combat negative health factors such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, and anxiety, leaders of the nation’s built environment and public health organizations today pledged their support to promote greater collaboration to advance healthier, more walkable communities.
The “Joint Call to Action to Promote Healthy Communities,” brings together 450,000 professionals who recognize that the built environment — the way a community is designed and built from its buildings and public spaces to how we travel between communities — is a key determinant of health. Working together will create new momentum towards the common objective of creating and sustaining healthy buildings and spaces.
Providing options for how residents want to move around as well as encouraging physical activity can be achieved through a variety of ways. Solutions may include multi-use pathways for walking and biking, Complete Streets policies, equitable and affordable transportation and transit-oriented communities, implementation of green infrastructure, more efficient land, water and resource use, expanded tree canopies, and access to buildings with health-promoting indoor environments.
Improving community health also has a direct economic benefit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report 86 percent of health care spending in 2010 was for people with one or more chronic medical conditions.
“Public health is at the very heart of the landscape architecture profession,” said Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects. “ASLA salutes this collaborative call to action and has committed to working with our partners to inspire positive change in the design of the built environment that can yield greater health benefits.”
The “Joint Call to Action to Promote Healthy Communities” specifically addresses four key points:
- Creating and fostering partnerships that advance health;
- Building an understanding of health data and establishing measurable health objectives for plans and projects;
- Advancing policies, programs, and systems that promote community health, well-being and equity; and
- Communicating the importance of health.
Organizations supporting today’s call to action include:
- American Institute of Architects
- American Planning Association
- American Public Health Association
- American Society of Civil Engineers
- American Society of Landscape Architects
- National Recreation and Park Association
- U.S. Green Building Council
- Urban Land Institute