GreenSpec: Wellbeing in the Built Environment: Introduction
For as long as us humans have existed, we've had a strong connection to our surrounding environment. From the earliest days of humanity. Investigating the intrinsic link between physical environment and social of the built environment on the health and wellbeing of its occupants. Empirical studies examining relationships between the built environment and social well-being have been focusing on neighborhood social capital (Cabrera.
One challenge is to better understand the broad impact of our built environment on health and then to build future communities that promote physical and mental health.
BRE Buzz » The impact of built environment on wellbeing
Public health has traditionally addressed the built environment to tackle specific health issues such as sanitation, lead paint, workplace safety, fire codes, and access for persons with disabilities. Some of our current zoning laws that block high-density, live—work—play developments derive from interventions that helped prevent the spread of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases in the 19th century.
Public health—based zoning laws were also instrumental in separating homes and schools from the odors and toxic emissions of abattoirs and tanneries. In the 20th century, the automobile and accompanying highway construction enabled the growth of suburbs and the vast expansion of metropolitan areas. Rail and trolley lines declined, and by the late s, the cores of most major cities were sapped of economic vitality and left with failing schools and rising crime rates. Government incentives that subsidized mortgages and highways encouraged home-building further out from urban areas.
As the US population grew and density dropped, vast stretches of forests and farmland were lost in the creation of roadways, megamalls, megaschools, and megasubdivisions. Even our environmental policies exacerbated the flow.
Despite the availability of over 10 vacant land parcels in New York City, 1 some city workers there have chosen to face commutes of 4 or more hours per day to subdivisions that replaced forests in northern Pennsylvania. This commuting pattern has led to the paving of vast quantities of landscape for roadways, cloverleaf intersections, and parking lots.
Wellbeing in the built environment - Introduction
At this point, the United States has paved a land area equivalent in size to the state of Georgia. Private motor vehicle transportation made necessary by extensive low-density land use has important implications for health: Decreased opportunities for children to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives, such as the inability to walk to school because of hazardous streets and long distances, 12 have contributed to a threefold increase in the prevalence of overweight children over the last 3 decades.
In this country, the number of people aged older than 65 will double by the year As chronic diseases such as arthritis, obesity, and diabetes increase in prevalence, the need becomes paramount for communities where elderly and disabled persons and young persons with few resources can function well and contribute to society without needing to own an automobile.
As Hippocrates, the Romans, and Jung knew, our physical environment affects our physical and mental health. We physicians focus well on our patients as individuals with health problems, but when so many of our patients have the same problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression, we must realize that their poor health is not caused only by a lack of discipline but may be the result of the built environments in which we live.
It is time for a shift to communities intentionally designed to facilitate physical and mental well-being. To effect this change, we need to draw upon the unique ability of humans to plan creatively for healthy communities.
The first step is to understand better the elements of the built environment that promote health. From the limited research to date, the public health community knows that some environments encourage walking, biking, and social interaction more than others do 15, 16 ; that many traffic injuries can be prevented 17 ; that increasing motor vehicle exhaust exacerbates pulmonary disease 18 ; and that the presence of neighborhood liquor stores increases alcohol consumption and associated adverse health consequences.
To address the multitude of questions, public health professionals must work closely with experts in other fields: With its focus on the built environment and health, this issue of the Journal strives to promote this emerging field of research.
Many aspects of the built environment will resist rapid change, even when research has adequately revealed key aspects of healthy communities.
Efforts to improve pedestrian facilities, preserve green space, and upgrade public transportation are under way in many communities.
Whereas our generation may reap some benefits from the new field of the built environment and health, with a little vision and a lot of good science and hard work, our children and grandchildren will be able to walk or bicycle home from their workplaces through attractive communities designed to promote the physical and mental health of all people. Acknowledgments I thank Catherine Staunton, Andrew Dannenberg, and Howard Frumkin, who gave generously of their time and expertise to the development of this issue of the Journal.
The Impact of the Built Environment on Health: An Emerging Field
Catherine Staunton, with unfailing assistance from the Journal editors, kept track of the countless details needed to smoothly complete this project. Andrew Dannenberg and Howard Frumkin helped provide the vision and knowledge that were key in creating this issue. All three spent many hours editing the various papers from nonpublic health disciplines law, engineering, crime, social science, etc.
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A Time to Build: Office of the President, Borough of Manhattan; January To retain and improve anything in life we need to consider holistic impacts to ensure that the final, balanced result can be sustained in the future. What do we refer to as Wellbeing in the built environment?Why the Built Environment? - Matthew Trowbridge
Showing 'Wellbeing' in context to the 3 Sustainability pillars The 5 issue categories of Wellbeing: Acoustics — ways in which sound impacts occupants within and through spaces. Design Character — the harmony of colours, shapes, textures and combinations between these. Light — quality and source of light, natural and artificial, controllability and glare control.
Typically, a combination of design features need to be applied to return a result; applying just one design or performance issue will not necessarily improve wellbeing. In the long run, a step by step approach will of course produce great results too! Good practice in the design of a space can return the following: Existing research work shows us that sustainable interiors can have dramatic influences on productivity, health, overall wellbeing — and the financial bottom line. The business case for sustainable interiors is slowly but surely being made.