Incorporating Public Health Research into Built Environment at Spatial Scales

A talk by Dr. Erika Eitland MPH, ScD, Linda Powers Tomasso, Dr. Jie Yin and Dr. Anna Young
Perkins + Will, Harvard Chan School of Public Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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About this talk

Rising stress-related and inflammatory disease rates among urban residents likely have common underpinnings tied to the built environment. Increased time spent indoors and decreased access to natural environments are two trends tied to urbanization which may contribute to those negative health and well-being outcomes. In this session we discuss the health impacts of urbanized built environments at different spatial scales and across urban gradients. (e.g., interiors, building, neighborhood). Beginning at the building level, we will discuss how indoor air quality and chemical exposures affect cognitive performance. We will present several experimental studies that quantify the physiological, psychological, and cognitive responses to indoor biophilic design to help restore human contact with nature. Within cities, we move to K-12 green schools and their impact on cognitive learning environments. We close at the municipal level with a recent study exploring how types of nature exposure and policies toward nature access contributed to self-assessed nature deprivation under the COVID-19 pandemic and how this affected individual wellbeing. Presentations will come from on-going studies and community engagement being conducted by doctoral/post-doctoral researchers from the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To understand how healthier materials that eliminate toxic chemical classes can reduce exposures in buildings. (AY)

  2. To explore how to quantify the health impacts of biophilic design in buildings by using emerging technologies. (JY)

  3. To discuss opportunities to embed public health research into the urban design and architectural process. (EE)

  4. To examine how nature contact, nature deprivation and wellbeing outcomes under COVID-19 and consider policy responses. (LPT)

1 GBCI CEU (self-reported) 1 LFA CEU (pending)