Healthy Places

Supporting Better Living Environments

The intersection of public health and the built environment is a major research priority for CQGRD. The Center embraces Health in all Policies (HIAP), which recognizes that addressing health challenges requires us to tackle social determinants of health including transportation, housing, urban development, environmental, and other interlinked aspects of health and the built environment.

"Healthy Places" is a term that refers to buildings, neighborhoods, and even entire metropolitan areas that support the health, well-being, and quality of life of its inhabitants. This requires a  multidisciplinary effort to shape healthy places, that includes planning, design, and policy to promote good health, support community values, and restore vitality to communities.

While public health practitioners have long recognized the need for cross-cutting solutions, the Center seeks to institutionalize the consideration of health in other sectors such as transportation planning, freight planning, economic development, and community design. The Center contributes to the understanding and development of healthy places by conducting research, disseminating innovative ideas on healthy places, and supporting the Healthy Places Research Group.

Related Projects: Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) of the freight plan for the Coastal Region  Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in Chatham County, Georgia
and Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) of City of Atlanta’s CARGO Study.
Support Tool: Health Assessment Decision Support Tool
Sponsor: The Pew Charitable Trusts
Timeframe: November 2014–December 2016

Supported by a Health Impact Project program grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, CQGRD established a framework for the consideration of health effects in freight planning. The framework connects traditional freight planning considerations such as traffic patterns, crash locations, and diesel emissions with health considerations such as rates of asthma and low birth weights that are linked not only to socioeconomic disparities, but also proximity to high-volume roadways. 

Additionally, the framework considered the land-use and economic development aspects of freight planning, including industrial land preservation; minimizing truck pollution emissions and crash risks in residential areas; proximity of playgrounds and public parks to freight routes; and safe transit and pedestrian access to jobs that support the freight and logistics/warehousing industries.

The framework was applied in Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) of two existing freight plans in Georgia: Coastal Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in Chatham County, Georgia, and City of Atlanta’s CARGO Study. Both HIAs were grounded in a broad review of the academic literature linking freight movement with health outcomes and social and physical health determinants such as poverty and environmental conditions. 

The literature review and data analysis demonstrated that freight movement sometimes disproportionately affects minorities and low-income people, who have historically faced discrimination or currently have the fewest resources. Therefore, both HIAs include a detailed focus on areas with a high rate of poverty in addition to county- and city-wide analyses. For both Chatham County, Georgia, and the City of Atlanta, the HIA team proposes strategies to mitigate health risks through MPO and countywide or citywide policy, respectively, and other more granular interventions targeted to specific areas.

Additional Projects

Title: Hospital Impacts on Community Health: A Study of Piedmont Hospital
Sponsor: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Timeframe: May 1, 2007-May 1, 2008

Title: Healthy Housing: Forging the Economic and Empirical Foundation (2007)
Sponsor: Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP)
Timeframe: November 1, 2006-September 1, 2007

Title: City of Decatur, GA Community Transportation Plan and Rapid HIA
Sponsor: City of Decatur, GA
Timeframe: November 1, 2006-November 1, 2007