The Planning and Community Health Center advances practices that improve human environments in order to promote public health.

Planning and Community Health Center

How a community is designed has a direct effect on the health of its citizens. Land development patterns, zoning ordinances, and land use classifications impact walkability, access to services, and transportation options. With an understanding of how the built environment affects public health, it is possible to create vibrant, active spaces and places.

APA's Planning and Community Health Center is dedicated to understanding how the built environment affects public health. Through applied research, partnerships, and education, this center supports the integration of health into planning practice at all levels.

Priority Areas

The Planning and Community Health Center focuses its efforts into projects and policies that prioritize:

  • Active Living
  • Food systems
  • Health in all planning policies

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Featured Projects


Through an overarching collaborative strategy that brings together members of the American Planning Association (APA) and the American Public Health Association (APHA), this project is building local capacity to address population health goals and promote the inclusion of health in non-traditional sectors. Coalitions made up of APA chapters, APHA affiliate groups, and others are working to set a new paradigm for healthy planning. By leveraging complementary expertise and influence, this project seeks to expand innovative tactics to addressing tough problems.

Health Impact Assessment's Role in Planning

APA's Planning and Community Health Center is embarking on a project to further the education, training, and development of Health Impact Assessments (HIA) as an integral part of planning practice.

Benefits of Street-scale Features for Walking and Bicycling

Through a partnership with Active Living Research, this project examines how different street features, either independently or in combination with one another, can promote physical activity. The research will also explore other potential co-benefits to such features, with special focus on economic and social outcomes.

Built Environment and Public Health Clearinghouse

The Built Environment and Public Health Clearinghouse (BEPHC) is a resource for training and relevant news about the intersection of health and place. APA, the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI), were a part of the 2014 relaunch as the clearinghouse, which now offers both academic and professional training resources that address the link between public health with planning, architecture, health impact assessment and transportation engineering, among others.

Growing Food Connections

In partnership with the University of Buffalo, this project targets urban and rural communities across the US that are significantly underserved by the nation's food system. With APA's support, the project is developing research-supported policy tools and trainings to help local governments reconnect vulnerable consumers living in food deserts with local farmers.

Planning Tools for Health

In collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Planning and Community Health Center is creating a set of guidelines to incorporate health into the Conceptual Review process for development projects. The PCH Center is examining best practices that directly or indirectly address community health improvement for new and re-development.

All projects

Share Your Planning and Health Successes

We want to spread the word about APA members' initiatives to incorporate planning and public health. Your stories will celebrate successes, inspire creativity, and serve as roadmaps for other planners and public health professionals as they develop their own programs to advance healthy communities. If you have a project to share, please let us know!

Upcoming Opportunities

Center for Active Design Excellence Awards
Call for Entries
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2015 APA National Planning Conference
Seattle, April 18-21, 2015
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APA Recognized in National Prevention Strategy Annual Report

Report to the U.S. President highlights APA's role in connecting public health and planning professionals.

Webinar Series

The Planning and Community Health Center is facilitating a series of webinars focused on built environment interventions that promote community health. The series touches on a variety of topics related to planning and public health, including strategies to advance active living, healthy eating, and cross-sector and community collaborations.

All webinars

Planning for Healthy Places with Health Impact Assessments

This online training course is a "how to" guide for conducting HIAs, developed by the American Planning Association and the National Association of County & City Health Officials, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Work with Us!

To learn how APA's Planning and Community Health Center can help you or to discuss partnership opportunities, contact us at healthycommunities@