ULI Washington News

ULI Washington’s Fourth Annual Walkable Urban Places Conference: Healthy Places and the Built Environment Event Recap

On November 9, 2015, a full-day workshop on Health and the Built Environment was held at GWU’s Marvin Center. There were three panels and two keynote presentations, all of which contained insightful thinking about how health is being incorporated into real estate and planning. Speakers focused on walkability, building and community design, design of health facilities, and value of healthy design, among others. Some general takeaways from the day are:

  • Every community has different walkability challenges and assets that should be evaluated in light of potential economic development opportunities
  • Developers can be more effective in achieving public health than doctors in white coats
  • Physical activity has been designed out of our daily lives
  • Golf courses are no longer sought after amenities; people now want walking trails and mixed use.
  • Walkable communities command price premiums of 25% to 100% of value
  • Walking is best when it is enjoyable, with people to see, places to walk to, and interesting street elements.
  • Density alone does not encourage either walkability or neighborhood vitality.
  • People stay longer, come back more often, and spend more money in places that attract their attention.
  • In 2002, there were 7 bikeshare systems worldwide.  Today there are 750.
  • Using programming in developments with health amenities increases use of amenities and health benefits.
  • Offering Resident Services such as gardening, cooking, health workshops, smoking cessation programs, fitness classes makes it easiest for residents to be healthy
  • Bikes run on fat and save you money, cars run on money and make you fat.
  • The healthy choice has to be the easy choice.
  • Providing a focus on health can help promote safety in residential development.
  • There is a new research on how to map the reaction of human emotions depending on the environment where the person is located
  • 70% of primary care visits result from psychosocial issues
  • Every additional hour per day in a car translates into a 6 percent increase in the likelihood of obesity
  • Design elements are critical to walkability including lighting, street furnishing, street trees, bicycle facilities, street width and total number of lanes, and on-street parking.
  • Small changes in physical activity and related disease patterns can result in significant savings on health care expenses.
  • Mental health problems can be improved by design elements that increase access to light, air, and community



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