Programs and Projects

Programs and Projects

The Built Environment Unit ensures that communities are planned and developed in ways that improve health and quality of life. Their projects have ranged from assessing the health impacts of a town center, examining equitable access to parks, and increasing walkability and bikability. They work closely with other agencies and organizations, such as Harris County Engineering Department, Harris County Flood Control District, Precincts, community organizations, and local leaders, to provide a health lens on proposed plans, policies, and projects.

Built Environment Unit Goals

The Built Environment (BE) Unit was launched in January 2015, as part of an effort to address health through policy and decision-making processes in Harris County, Texas. Learn more about the BE Unit’s objectives below.

To address health through the built environment, the BE Unit aims to:

  • Increase equitable access to healthy communities and environments.
  • Conduct Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) and Health Impact Reviews (HIRs) to examine and mitigate health risk through policy, planning, and development decisions.
  • Inform and make recommendations to decision-makers about how to improve health through updates and changes to policies and plans related to the built environment.
  • Support cross-sector collaboration to build capacity and share information regarding best practices for healthy community design.
  • Utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map health data and conduct spatial analysis.
  • Engage the community in building local knowledge and support opportunities to facilitate change that promotes health equity.
  • Provide technical assistance to communities and agencies interested in improving the built environment and/or conducting an HIA.
  • Protect the health of Harris County residents from the effects of climate change by utilizing local climate science, expanding climate and health communications, and building community resilience.
  • Demonstrate the value of integrating health into planning, design, and development projects and provide guidance on how specific urban planning projects can maximize health benefits.