Collaborating for Green and Healthy Development

Kelly Worden

Strong evidence indicates that where we live, work, learn, and play affects our health and well-being. Green building professionals are in a unique position to ensure that their projects minimize health risks and capitalize on opportunities to improve health.

With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the U.S. Green Building Council has formed a new partnership with the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, and Enterprise Green Communities to streamline the comprehensive and systematic consideration of health in the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification programs. HIAPracticeCollab-OnePager FINAL

Although LEED and the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria have included health measures since their inception, this new collaboration strengthens and expands the consideration of health. As a result, the 2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria includes a new, mandatory “Design for Health” criterion and work is underway on a new “Health Process” pilot credit for use within the LEED pilot credit library.

Drawing upon the principles of health impact assessment (HIA)—a framework for systematic, comprehensive consideration of potential public health impacts of proposed policies that emphasizes stakeholder engagement—and of integrative design, the new strategies define a process by which architects, designers, and developers can consider the connections between their work and public health. These strategies encourage LEED and Enterprise Green Communities project teams to use public health information in planning and developing their projects and to engage building occupants, community members and other stakeholders in identifying strategies for addressing possible negative consequences and maximizing opportunities to improve health.

In April, Enterprise Green Communities released their 2015 Criteria. Stay tuned for the accompanying LEED pilot credit to be released within the coming months.

Kelly Worden
Project Manager of Health Research at USGBC exploring the impact of green buildings and the built environment on public health. MPH in Global Environmental Health from the George Washington University.