Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Publications and Selected Current Projects

This website is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.

The Healthy Community Design Initiative, also known as the Built Environment and Health Initiative, is no longer a funded program and the information on this website is not being reviewed and updated on a regular basis.


Publications and Manuscripts

Dannenberg AL, Wu P, Frumkin H. The role of physicians in promoting healthier built environments. Am J Prev Med 2013;44(6):e67-69.

Freeland A, Banerjee S, Dannenberg AL, Wendel AM. Walking associated with public transit: moving toward increased physical activity in the United States. Am J Public Health. 2013 Mar;103(3):536-42.
The CDC study found that from 2001 and 2009, the number of transit walkers increased from 7.5 million to 9.6 million which is a 28% increase. Researchers used phone interview and travel diary data from a national travel survey. The highest proportion of transit walkers were from low-income households making less than $35,000, more than half were non-white. Walk time for white and middle-income transit walkers increased slightly. In 2009, 3.4 million people walked 30 minutes or more per day in conjunction with a transit trip.

Dannenberg AL, Wernham A. Health Impact Assessment in the USA. Chapter 23 in: Kemm, John, editor. Health Impact Assessment: Past achievement, current understanding, and future progress. Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Blanck HM, Allen D,Bashir Z, Gordon N, Goodman A, Merriam D, Rutt, C. Let’s go play in the park today: the role of parks in obesity prevention and improving the public’s health. Childhood Obesity 2012;8(5):423-8.
This article briefly summarizes some of the obesity-related benefits of parks across the local, state, and national park systems and highlights specific initiatives as examples of the commitment by park agencies to benefit the public’s health and play a role in obesity and chronic disease prevention.

Hebert K, Wendel A, Kennedy S, Dannenberg A. Health impact assessment: A comparison of 45 local, national, and international guidelines. Environmental Impact Assessment Review. 2012:34;74-72.
This article provides a comparison of health impact assessment (HIA) guidelines from around the world and for multiple geographic scales. Commonalities and differences are identified within HIA guides to discuss the plausibility of consensus guidelines and to inform guideline development.

The American Planning Association(US). Healthy Planning: An evaluation of comprehensive and sustainability plans addressing public health [PDF – 2.5 MB]. Washington, DC: APA;2012.
Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Community Design Initiative, the report evaluates how comprehensive and sustainability plans from around the country have addressed public health. The report analyzes 22 actual plans for their adequacy in addressing active living, emergency preparedness, environmental exposures, food and nutrition, health and human services, and social cohesion and mental health.

Safe Routes to School National Partnership (US). Promoting active transportation: An opportunity for public health [PDF – 16.4 MB]. 2012.
The guide, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Community Design Initiative, gives an introduction and orientation as to why and how health should be considered in transportation planning and decision-making – in particular through active transportation – and the role that public health practitioners can play.

Wendel AM. Establishing the practice of health impact assessment in the United States [PDF – 612 KB]. J Environ Health 2012;75(1):32-33.
The commentary urges health professionals to forge a relationship with their community planners by encouraging the use of Health Impact Assessment.

Hebert K, Wendel AM, Kennedy SK, Dannenberg AL. Health impact assessment: a comparison of 45 local, national, and international guidelines. Environ Impact Assess Rev. 2012;34:74-82.
This article provides a comparison of health impact assessment (HIA) guidelines from around the world and for multiple geographic scales.

Ross CL, Leone de Nie K, Dannenberg AL, Beck LF, Marcus MJ, Barringer J. Health impact assessment of the Atlanta Beltline. Am J Prev Med. 2012;42(3):135-42.
The Atlanta Beltline Health Impact Assessment is one of the first HIAs to tie specific assessment findings to specific recommendations and to identifiable impacts from those recommendations. The lessons learned from this project may help others engaged in similar efforts.

Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2012 Benchmarking Report. Washington, DC: Alliance for Bicycling & Walking;2012.
The report is an on-going effort from the Alliance for Biking & Walking to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states and at least the 50 most-populated U.S. cities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped fund the report.

From Fitness Zones to the Medical Mile: How Urban Park Systems Can Best Promote Health and Wellness
Washington, DC: The Trust for Public Land; 2011. The report details more than 75 innovative features and programs ”including 14 case studies” that maximize a park’s ability to promote physical activity and improve mental health. The report is intended for use by park professionals and advocates, concerned citizens, government leaders, and health officials. The report was partially funded by CDC.

Mumford KG, Contant CK, Weissman J, Wolf J, Glanz K. Changes in physical activity and travel behaviors in residents of a mixed-use development [PDF – 57 KB]. Am J Prev Med. 2011 Nov; 41(5):504-507.
The CDC-funded study examined the physical activity and travel behaviors of individuals before and after they relocated to Atlantic Station, a mixed-use redevelopment community in metropolitan Atlanta. The study concluded that adults who move to a denser, mixed-use neighborhood increase their levels of walking for both recreation and transportation, decrease their automobile travel, and increase their use of public transportation.

Comprehensive Planning for Public Health: Results of the Planning and Community Health Research Center Survey [PDF – 7.9 MB]
This report highlights the results of a web-based survey used to identify draft and adopted comprehensive and sustainability plans that explicitly address public health. CDC provided funding for the project.

Healthy Community Design Expert Workshop, September 2009 [PDF – 566 KB]

CDC convened 20 top built environment thought leaders from various disciplines to discuss how to raise awareness among their peers about the health impact of community design decisions. This report covers the impetus for the workshop; healthy community design best practices and case studies; recommended action steps to advance healthy community design principles; and suggested initiatives CDC could take on to help establish a practice of considering health impact when making land use, transportation planning and other community design decisions.

Botchwey ND, Hobson SE, Dannenberg AL, Mumford KG, Contant CK, McMillan TE, Jackson RJ, Lopez R, Winkle C. A Model Built Environment and Public Health Course Curriculum: Training for an Interdisciplinary Workforce. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 36(2 Suppl):S63-S71, 2009.

Reversing declines in walking and bicycling to school. [Commentary] Wendel AM, Dannenberg AL. Prev Med. 2009 Jun;48(6):513-5. Epub 2009 Jun 3.

Wendel AM, Dannenberg AL, Frumkin H. Designing and Building Healthy Places for Children. International Journal of Environment and Health. 2:338-355, 2008.

Younger M, Morrow-Almeida HR, Vindigni SM, Dannenberg AL. The Built Environment, Climate Change, and Health: Opportunities for Co-Benefits. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 35(5):517-526, 2008.

Influencing the Built Environment in Your Community [PDF – 460 KB]
Heishman H, Dannenberg AL. Journal of Environmental Health, Nov 2008; 71(4):66-67.

Rutt C, Dannenberg AL, Kochtitzky C. Using policy and built environment interventions to improve public health. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2008 May-Jun;14(3):221-3.

An Expert Review on the Strength of the Public Health Data in Support of Proposed Community Design Standards in LEED for Neighborhood Development
In 2007, CDC convened an expert review panel of public health and land use experts to review the LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) rating system. Eight of the 17 panelists were CDC experts. The panel found that, based on scientific research or expert opinion, several of the LEED-ND rating system features could contribute to several health benefits. The findings helped to further revise the LEED-ND standards and focus on opportunities to strengthen the links between known public health interventions and the LEED-ND criteria.

Safe Routes to School Manuscript, 2007
Watson M, Dannenberg AL. Investment in Safe Routes to School projects: public health benefits for the larger community. Prev Chronic Dis 2008;5(3).

Use of Health Impact Assessment in the U.S. 27 Case Studies, 1999–2007 [PDF – 390 KB]
CDC scientists examined 27 Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) that were completed in the U.S. From 1999 –2007. HIAs help planners and others consider the health consequences of their decisions.

From Health Destruction to Health Promotion, Conversion of a Worksite Smoking Shelter, 2007 [PDF – 343 KB] Dannenberg AL, Bauer DR, Bland AD, Hobson SE, Kenneth Rose K. By removing a bench and installing a bicycle rack, a government agency inexpensively converted a smoking shelter into a bicycle shelter.

Workshop on health impact assessments, Princeton, October 2004 [PDF – 770 KB]
Dannenberg AL, Bhatia R, Cole BL, Dora C, Fielding J, Kraft K, McClymont-Peace D, Mindell J, Onyekere C, Roberts JA, Ross CL, Rutt CD, Scott-Samuel A, Tilson HH. Growing the Field of Health Impact Assessment in the United States: An Agenda for Research and Practice. American Journal of Public Health. 96: 262-270, 2006.

American Planning Association (APA) draft model zoning codes, 2006
Model zoning codes developed to promote healthy walkable communities.

Walking to transit study based on National Household Travel Survey data, 2004 [PDF – 137 KB]
Besser LM, Dannenberg AL. Walking to public transit: steps to help meet physical activity recommendations. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2005; 29:273-280.

Workplace walkability audit tool, 2004
Dannenberg AL, Cramer TW, Gibson CJ. Assessing the Walkability of the Workplace: A New Audit Tool. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2005;20:39-44. Audit tool available at

Manuscript on basics of planning for public health professionals, 2005 [PDF – 12 KB]
Malizia EE. City and regional planning: a primer for public health officials. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2005 May-Jun;19(5):Suppl 1-13. To obtain a copy of article, please contact Dr. Emil Malizia at

TRB/IOM report on physical activity and built environment, 2003
Committee on Physical Activity, Health, Transportation, and Land Use, Transportation Research Board, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Does the built environment influence physical activity? Examining the evidence. Transportation Research Board Special Report 282. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2005.

Case studies of built environment projects in predominantly low income areas, 2003
The built environment and health: 11 profiles of neighborhood transformation. Oakland, CA: The Prevention Institute; 2004.

Costs of obesity on airlines, 2002.
Dannenberg AL, Burton DC, Jackson RJ. Economic and environmental costs of obesity: the impact on airlines. Letter. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2004;27:264.

Making Healthy Places, 2012
Dannenberg AL, Frumkin H, Jackson RJ. Making Healthy Places. Washington, DC: Island Press; 2012.

Urban Sprawl and Public Health, 2003
Frumkin H, Frank L, Jackson R. Urban sprawl and public health: designing, planning, and building for healthy communities. Washington, DC: Island Press; 2004.

Workshop to develop research agenda on health and built environment, May 2003
Dannenberg AL, Jackson RJ, Frumkin H, Schieber RA, Pratt M, Kochtitzky C, Tilson HH. The Impact of Community Design and Land-Use Choices on Public Health: A Scientific Research Agenda. American Journal of Public Health. 2003;93:1500-1508.
The design of a community’s built environment influences the physical and mental health of its residents. Because few studies have investigated this relationship, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosted a workshop in May 2002 to help develop a scientific research agenda on these issues. This report describes the 37 questions in the resulting research agenda.

Crime prevention and the built environment, 2003
Carter SP, Carter SL, Dannenberg AL. Zoning Out Crime and Improving Community Health in Sarasota, Florida: Crime Prevention through Environmental Design. American Journal of Public Health 2003;93:1442-1445.

 Top of Page

Selected Current Projects

Fourteen NIH/CDC funded grants on obesity and the built environment, 2004-present.
Grant information for 11 NIH/CDC grants. Available at

U.S. Green Building Council LEED for Neighborhood Developments (LEED ND) Rating System, 2003-present [PDF – 3.24 MB]
Draft certification process being developed to promote healthy walkable community design.

NEHA Built Environment Case Studies, 2006
Case studies developed by the National Environmental Health Association to highlight exceptional solutions in local government that integrate environmental health considerations into land use planning and design.

Moving to walkable communities.
Supplemental funding (2006-2009) to two Prevention Research Centers (St. Louis University and Emory University) to study physical activity and travel patterns of persons moving from less walkable conventional communities to more walkable Smart Growth communities.

Health Impact Assessment, Atlanta Beltline
CDC collaboration to provide technical assistance to the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development at the Georgia Institute of Technology to conduct a health impact assessment (HIA) of the Atlanta Beltline redevelopment and transit project. (With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program
Collaboration with Federal Highway Administration to provide technical and financial support to add health questions to assess physical activity, walking, and bicycling in the evaluation of non-motorized transportation investments authorized by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) legislation to be conducted in four communities (Columbia, MO; Marin County, CA; Minneapolis, MN; and Sheboygan County, WI).

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Partner Network
Technical support and financial collaboration with SRTS Partner Network helps facilitate national efforts to develop and implement SRTS programs and infrastructure.

SRTS aims to increase physical activity, reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and enhance neighborhood safety for children and their communities through the creation of safe bicycle and walking paths. See the Partner Network’s website at

Alliance Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Project, Alliance for Biking and Walking
Developing a benchmarking data analysis and reporting system for walking and bicycle use, facilities, policies, and funding for all 50 states and larger metropolitan areas.

 Top of Page

Selected Collaborative Efforts

Healthy Places Research Group, 2003-present
The HPRG meets once a month to discuss issues related to health and the built environment. Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, CDC, students, and researchers participate in this forum.

Public Health and Built Environment Course Curriculum
Collaboration with Emory University and Georgia Institute for Technology faculty to

  • create a joint course in Public Health and Planning to be jointly taught at these universities and
  • develop core curriculum for Public Health and Planning course for publication with expertise provided by current faculty nationwide already teaching the course.

 Top of Page