Last year, we shared a preview of ongoing research funded by theRobert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) on the representation of health and well-being within LEED 2009. As previously described, a ‘Green Health’ partnership was launched in 2012 between the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), RWJF and the University of Virginia School of Medicine focused on leveraging the market transformation capacity of green building to accelerate innovation and translation of built environment and health research within the real estate industry.
Building Healthy Communities: Establishing Health And Wellness Metrics For Use Within The Real Estate Industry
It is increasingly well recognized that the design and operation of the communities in which people live, work, learn, and play significantly influence their health. However, within the real estate industry, the health impacts of transportation, community development, and other construction projects, both positive and negative, continue to operate largely as economic externalities: unmeasured, unregulated, and for the most part unconsidered. This lack of transparency limits communities’ ability to efficiently advocate for real estate investment that best promotes their health and well-being. It also limits market incentives for innovation within the real estate industry by making it more difficult for developers that successfully target health behaviors and outcomes in their projects to differentiate themselves competitively. In this article we outline the need for actionable, community-relevant, practical, and valuable metrics jointly developed by the health care and real estate sectors to better evaluate and optimize the “performance” of real estate development projects from a population health perspective. Potential templates for implementation, including the successful introduction of sustainability metrics by the green building movement, and preliminary data from selected case-study projects are also discussed.