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Built environment 1

Built environment
The term built environment refers to
the human-made surroundings that
provide the setting for human activity,
ranging in scale from buildings and
parks or green space to neighborhoods
and cities that can often include their
supporting infrastructure, such as water
supply, or energy networks. The built
environment is a material, spatial and
cultural product of human labor that
combines physical elements and
energy in forms for living, working
and playing. It has been defined as “the
human-made space in which people
live, work, and recreate on a
day-to-day basis”. The “built Part of the built environment – suburban tract housing in Colorado Springs, Colorado
environment encompasses places and
spaces created or modified by people including buildings, parks, and transportation systems”. In recent years, public
health research has expanded the definition of "built environment" to include healthy food access, community
gardens, “walkability", and “bikability”, reason include sustainable development aimed at smart growth.

Early concepts of built environment were introduced thousands of years ago. Hippodamus of Miletos, known as the
“father of urban planning”, developed Greek cities from 498 BC to 408 BC that created order by using grid plans that
mapped the city. These early city plans eventually gave way to the City Beautiful movement in the late 1800s and
early 1900s, inspired by Daniel Hudson Burnham, a reformist for the Progressivism movement who actively
promoted “a reform of the landscape in tandem with political change”. The effort was in partnership with others who
believed that beautifying American cities would improve the moral compass of the cities and encourage the upper
class to spend their money in cities. This beautification process included parks and architectural design.

Modern built environment

Currently built environments are typically used to describe the interdisciplinary field that addresses the design,
construction, management, and use of these man-made surroundings as an interrelated whole as well as their
relationship to human activities over time (rather than a particular element in isolation or at a single moment in
time). The field is generally not regarded as a traditional profession or academic discipline in its own right, instead
drawing upon areas such as economics, law, public policy, public health, management, geography, design,
technology, and environmental sustainability. Within the field of public health, built environments are referred to as
building or renovating areas in an effort to improve the community’s well-being through construction of
“aesthetically, health improved, and environmentally improved landscapes and living structures”. For example;
community forest user group in Nepal is multi-dimensional institution, which serves goods and services to the
communities through natural resource management.
Built environment 2

Public health
In public health, built environment refers to physical environments that are designed with health and wellness as
integral parts of the communities. Research has indicated that the way neighborhoods are created can affect both the
physical activity and mental health of the communities’ residents. Studies have shown that built environments that
were expressly designed to improve physical activity are linked to higher rates of physical activity, which in turn,
positively affects health.
Neighborhoods with more walkability had lower rates of obesity as
well as increased physical activity among its residents. They also had
lower rates of depression, higher social capital, and less alcohol abuse.
Walkability features in these neighborhoods include safety, sidewalk
construction, as well as destinations in which to walk. In addition, the
perception of a walkable neighborhood, one that is perceived to have
good sidewalks and connectivity, is correlated with higher rates of
physical activity.
A separated bike lane in New York City. By
Assessments of walkability have been completed through the use of Gnarly (http:/ / creativecommons. org/ licenses/
GIS programs. One such program, Street Smart Walk Score [1], is a by-sa/ 3. 0)
walkability assessment tool which determines distances to grocery
stores and other amenities, as well as connectivity and intersection frequency using specific addresses. Assessments
such as Street Smart Walk Score can be utilized by city and county planning departments to improve existing
walkability of communities.

Public health also addresses additional

components of built environments including
“bikeability” and healthy food access such as
proximity to grocery stores and community
gardens. Bikeability refers to the access that
an area has granted to safe biking through
multiple bike paths and bike lanes. Both
walkability and bikeability have been cited
as determinants of physical activity.

Access to healthy food is also an important

component of the built environment. A
higher density of convenience stores has
been associated with obesity in children. In A community garden located in Montreal, Canada
contrast, improved access to community
supermarkets and farmer’s markets is correlated with lower overweight status. Specifically in low income
neighborhoods, the presence of a local grocery store is correlated with lower BMI/overweight risk. Community
gardens are also considered a part of the built environment, and have been shown to increase fruit and vegetable
intake among gardeners. Scholars say that community gardens have also been shown to have positive social and
psychological impacts that lead to lower levels of stress, hypertension, and an improved sense of wellness, affecting
the overall health of the individual and the community.

The intersection of public health with other disciplines is evident in the design process of built environments which
includes environmental planning, policy development and land-use planning. Research suggests that people are more
active in mixed-use communities or those that incorporate retail and residential and densely populated areas as well
as those with good street connectivity. Those who preferred to walk and live in walkable environments often have
lower obesity rates and drive less over those who preferred living in auto-dependent environments. The strength of
Built environment 3

the evidence for reducing obesity through environment has been highlighted by the Center for Disease Control in its
Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention Project, which includes measures of healthy food access and
physical activity environments.

Landscape architecture
In landscape architecture, the built environment is understood to mean a human-made landscape, as distinguished
from the natural environment; for example, a city park is a built environment.Wikipedia:Citation needed

[1] http:/ / Street%20Smart%20Walk%20Score

Further reading
• Richard J. Jackson, Andrew L. Dannenberg, and Howard Frumkin. (2013) "Health and the Built Environment: 10
Years After". American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 103, No. 9, pp. 1542-1544.
• Leyden, Kevin M. (2003). “Social Capital and the Built Environment: The Importance of Walkable
Neighborhoods.” ( American
Journal of Public Health. Volume 93: 1546-1551
• Jeb Brugmann, Welcome to the urban revolution: how cities are changing the world, Bloomsbury Press, 2009
• Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Random House, New York, 1961
• Andrew Knight & Les Ruddock, Advanced Research Methods in the Built Environment, Wiley-Blackwell 2008
• Paul Chynoweth, The Built Environment Interdiscipline: A Theoretical Model for Decision Makers in Research
and Teaching, Proceedings of the CIB Working Commission (W089) Building Education and Research
Conference, Kowloon Sangri-La Hotel, Hong Kong, 10 - 13 April 2006 (
• Richard J. Jackson with Stacy Sinclair, Designing Healthy Communities, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2012 (http:/
• Russell P. Lopez, The Built Environment and Public Health, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2012 (http://www.

External links
• Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) (
• Faculty of Built Environment, UTM, Skudai, Johor (, Malaysia
• Designing Healthy Communities, link to nonprofit organization and public television documentary of same name
• The Built Environment and Health: 11 Profiles of Neighborhood Transformation (http://www.
Article Sources and Contributors 4

Article Sources and Contributors

Built environment  Source:  Contributors: Alan Liefting, Alansohn, Alex Sims, Amazins490, Andycjp, Arman Cagle, Arthur Rubin,
Astudent, AubreyEllenShomo, Azreen09, B william r, BD2412, BeGenderNeutral, Bmartens, BobCMU76, Brianatkin, Buddy23Lee, Budhathokyp, BuiltEnvirons, CMG, CMSnow14, CTS1996,
Christiaan, CommonsDelinker, Coolestkitty, CyeCenter, DASonnenfeld, DVD R W, Darigan, Dmittleman, Echidna18, Editor B, Ellisun, Envhealthstudent, Erauch, Erin Inglish, Esy, Fryeb,
Funandtrvl, Gabriel Kielland, Galoubet, Gurch, Haeinous, Hans Dunkelberg, Hasanisawi, Hayabusa future, Hseneff, Hustlecat, ISTB351, Inaaaa, Islescape, Jeff Silvers, John loza2, K.
Annoyomous, KKoolstra, La goutte de pluie, Lockley, MER-C, Manop, McGeddon, Mdwyer, Mendaliv, Merovingian, Miscreant, Mmi7593, Mrm7171, Mzajac, NGC 2736, Nick Number,
Northamerica1000, Nyttend, PercyWaldram, Pinethicket, Prokaryotes, Quantumobserver, RW Marloe, Rajah, Rcsprinter123, Remuel, Ringbang, Rjwilmsi, RobertG, Ronz, Roopi04, Roux-HG,
Solace098, SpikeTorontoRCP, Tawnysea, Trappist the monk, User A1, Vegaswikian, Wavelength, Wbm1058, Wetman, Woohookitty, 93 anonymous edits

Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

File:Suburbia by David Shankbone.jpg  Source:  License: GNU Free Documentation License  Contributors:
David Shankbone
File:WTM3 Gnarly 0028.jpg  Source:  License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0  Contributors: Gnarly
(Wikis Take Manhattan 2009 participant)
File:Community garden.jpg  Source:  License: Public Domain  Contributors: Klest

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0