Healthy Built Environment Linkages Toolkit


healthy-environments-toolkitThe Healthy Built Environment (HBE) Linkages Toolkit is the first evidence-based and expert-informed resource that links planning principles to health outcomes. The toolkit was developed by the PHSA Population and Public Health team in partnership with the Healthy Built Environment (HBE) Alliance. The toolkit breaks down a complex issue into accessible components in an approachable format. The toolkit is well designed for use as support material for community engagement workshops.

Intended to inform built environment design and decision-making, the toolkit summarizes health evidence related to the five physical features of the built environment: neighbourhood design, transportation networks, natural environments, food systems, and housing.

The goal is that by referring to the HBE Linkages Toolkit, local governments can quickly understand key factors related to the built environment that influence health in their communities, and planners can access a reliable summary of health evidence to support their daily work.

The toolkit provides a framework for thinking and talking about health and the built environment without prescribing which actions to take. The Toolkit is intended to be a conversation starter for planners, public health professionals, and local governments regarding “what” to do. Resources such as PlanH complement the HBE Linkages Toolkit by offering solutions about “how” to plan and design healthy built environments.

The toolkit is intended to:

  • Facilitate conversations between public health practitioners, planners and others involved in land-use and transportation planning.
  • Assist toolkit users in applying health evidence.
  • Inform built environment decision-making processes.
  • Be a navigational tool to the literature, directing people to further information.

The toolkit is designed primarily for public health practitioners involved in healthy built environment work, planners, design professionals and land-use and transportation planning professionals such as architects and engineers, along with others involved in the design of communities, including decision-makers in municipal and regional governments.

Suggested questions to keep in mind when using the toolkit include:

  • Context is key: is it right for my community?
  • Quality of evidence: how much do we know?
  • Non-urban areas: what new opportunities exist?
  • Equity and access: who will be included?
  • Why link community design, planning and health?
  • What is the built environment?

The toolkit looks at 5 key physical features of a healthy built environment:

  • Healthy Neighbourhood Design with a vision of neighbourhoods where people can easily connect with each other and with a variety of day-to-day services
  • Healthy Housing with a vision of affordable, accessible and good quality housing for all that is free of hazards and enables people to engage in activities of daily living while optimizing their health.
  • Healthy Food Systems with a vision of a built environment that can support access to and availability of healthy foods for all.
  • Healthy Natural Environments with a vision of a built environment where natural elements are protected and natural elements are incorporated, and are experienced by and accessible to all.
  • Healthy Transportation Networks with a vision of safe and accessible transportation systems that incorporate a diversity of transportation modes and place priority on active transport (e.g. cycling, walking and transit) over the use of private vehicles.

The toolkit explores the following planning principles to encourage these priorities, with fact sheets for each discussion point:

  • Healthy Neighbourhood Design
    • Enhance neighbourhood walkability
    • Create mixed land use
    • Build complete and compact neighbourhoods
    • Enhance connectivity with efficient and safe networks
    • Prioritize new developments within or beside existing communities
  • Healthy Housing
    • Increase access to affordable housing through provision of diverse housing forms and tenure types
    • Ensure adequate housing quality for all segments of society
    • Prioritize housing for the homeless, elderly, low income groups, and people with disabilities
    • Site and zone housing developments to minimize exposure
  • Healthy Food Systems
    • Enhance agricultural capacity
    • Increase access to healthy foods in all neighbourhoods
    • Improve community-scale food infrastructure and services
  • Healthy Natural Environments
    • Preserve and connect open space and environmentally sensitive areas
    • Maximize opportunities to access and engage with the natural environment
    • Reduce urban air pollution
    • Mitigate urban heat island effect
  • Healthy Transportation Networks
    • Enable mobility for all ages and abilities
    • Make active transportation convenient and safe
    • Prioritize safety
    • Encourage use of public transit
    • Enable attractive road, rail and waterway networks

The next section of the toolkit provides a chart of linkage in each of the topics from Planning Principle to Impact to Health Related Outcome.

The final section of the toolkit provides evidence diagrams for each topic area, ending with a glossary of specialist terminology.