Healthy Aging Network (HAN) Environmental Audit Tool

University of Washington’s Prevention Research Center (PRC)

An adolescent girl is running with open arms toward a man in wheelchair.

A Prevention Research Center Tool Showing Evidence of Effectiveness


For older adults and people with disabilities, neighborhood walkability and safety are important for well-being. The CDC HAN Environmental Audit Tool (HEAT)  is one of the first tools available to assess the walkability and safety features to help meet the needs of these groups. The HEAT Toolkit was created to help planners analyze neighborhoods for unsuitable conditions such as uneven sidewalks, poor signs or lighting, or lack of restrooms and benches. The tool helps to identify where such changes are needed. The University of Washington’s PRC and partners worked with St. Louis University to develop the toolkit.


The developers validated and refined the HEAT instrument through a series of interviews with older adults in diverse communities.1 The HEAT Toolkit was built on the Analytic Audit Tool (developed by St. Louis University) that examines relationships between street environments and physical activity of the population. To create HEAT, the Analytic Audit Tool was revised to include items important to older adults and mobility. The HEAT Tool includes an assessment and scoring protocol developed by an expert panel. It is also intended for analyzing elements in the transportation and land-use environments.2 The toolkit allows planners to identify areas where environmental change is most needed.

Scoring takes about 20 minutes per segment or block in an urban grid-like setting. Workers should complete training before using the assessment and scoring documents to ensure accurate data. Training to use the tool typically takes 1 to 1 1/2 days, including practice in the community. Training tools are available on-line at HAN Environmental Audit Tool (HEAT).

1 Kealey M, Kruger J, Hunter R , et al.  Engaging older adults to be more active where they live: audit tool developments [abstract]. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2005;2(2). Accessed September 19, 2018.

2 Brownson RC, Hoehner, CM, Brennan LK, Cook RA, Elliott MB, McMullen K.  Reliability of two instruments for auditing the environment for physical activity. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2004;1:191–208.