The design of the built environment directly influences the health of our communities. For instance, people who live in more walkable cities are less overweight and are more physically active. 
Unfortunately, the design of many of our cities has introduced considerable consequences for our community health by limiting our access to transportation, food, health care, and recreation while decreasing our water and air quality and social capital.
Moving forward, governing policies and codes will play an important role in creating healthy community design. Sadly, studies show that local government regulations have discouraged developers to invest in design projects that could prevent these undesirable outcomes . Questions regarding how and where in community development will guide the conversation and action around improving healthy community design.
What it means to health equity
In many instances, communities with low socioeconomic status suffer disproportionately from the negative consequences associated with design and transportation decisions.
Issues stemming from community design flaws that include poor water quality, high rates of pollution, toxic industrial sites, and irresponsible waste streams call for environmental justice.
Giving community residents the ability to participate in decisions regarding proposed activities that may affect their health and environment is a large piece in practicing health equity in community design.
Why it matters for resilience
Healthy community design helps create space for and access to other elements of a healthy community. Communities that are faced with adversity are able to respond successfully when the built environment is designed to promote and build up these elements that promote health. Community design that creates social networks, reduces dependence on external resources, creates economic vitality, and provides access to healthcare will do well in the face of adversity.
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Where to Go For the Bigger Picture: National Resources
Look here for statistics, analysis strategies, resources and best practices from across the country.
- Center for Active Design
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Healthy Places
- Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI)
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – Built Environment and Health
- Smart Growth America – Dangerous by Design
- Smart Growth America – Safe Streets Academy
- Urban Land Institute – Building Healthy Places Initiative
- Vision Zero Network
- WELL Building Institute
Who to Call to the Table: Arizona Resources
Looking to start, or engage in a conversation about Community Design and how you can contribute? Here are connectors, conveners, advocates and actors to bring to the table.
#ThisISHappeningHere: A Sampling of Key Project
Connect with Community Design efforts-in-progress, and the partners who are helping to make them happen:
- Healthy Corridors: ULI is investigating best practices to reinvent under-performing suburban and urban arterials in health-promoting ways.
- Rancho Sahuarita: An award-winning, family-friendly master-planned community in Southern Arizona
- Roosevelt Row CDC: Named one of the “Great Places in America” by the American Planning Association, Roosevelt Row has supported many creative placemaking projects including a refurbishment of shipping containers to be used as pop-up galleries.
#ThisNEEDSToHappenHere: Signature Projects
Get a bird’s eye view of efforts from around the country that can be an inspiration and reference point for Arizona-based work:
- CityLab: Through original reporting, sharp analysis, and visual storytelling, CityLab informs and inspires the people who are creating the cities of the future—and those who want to live there.
- Collaborative for High Performance Schools: Develops tools that help make schools energy, water, and material efficient, well-lit, thermally comfortable, acoustically sounds, safe, healthy and easy to operate.
 Journal of Physical Activity and Health
 Health and Community Design: The Impact Of The Built Environment On Physical Activity(2003) Lawrence Frank, Peter Engelke, Thomas Schmid. Island Press
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