From: Nelson, Danielle (FTA)
Subject: CDC Releases New Built Environment Assessment Tool
Hello ACL Colleagues,
Chris Kochtitzky shared this newly release tool - I wanted to make sure to help spread the
word to networks who may find the tool useful.
Chris Kochtitzky, MSP
Associate Director for Program Development
CDC's Div. of Emergency & Environ. Health Services
[cid:image003.png@01D0C85A.C6D257B0]CDC Releases New Built Environment Assessment Tool
A wide array of tools exists for measuring different features of the built environment,
many of them well validated. These existing tools fall into three categories: 1) interview
or self-administered questionnaires which primarily measure perceptions, 2) tools that
collect archival (existing) data, often using GIS, and 3) systematic observation or audit
tools. It is often difficult for local program staff and evaluators to know which features
of the built environment are most important to measure on the basis of the health
behaviors and outcomes they are trying to affect. It is also difficult to know which
tool(s) to choose to most accurately and feasibly assess those features.
The Built Environment Assessment Tool (BE Tool) (an adaptation of MAPS) was designed to
alleviate some of the challenges posed by the significant number of narrowly focused tools
aimed at only one activity (walking), one subpopulation (older adults), or one public
health area (inactivity). It was created as a collaborative enterprise across multiple
areas of public health - health promotion, injury prevention, environmental health, etc.
It is a direct systematic observation data collection instrument for measuring the core
features and quality of the built environment related to behaviors that affect health,
especially behaviors such as walking, biking, and other types of physical activity. There
are many aspects of the built environment. The built environment includes the buildings,
roads, sidewalks, utilities, homes, transit, fixtures, parks and all other man-made
entities that form the physical characteristics of a community. The built environment can
impact human health by affecting rates of physical activity, air pollutants such as ozone
and particulate matter that can exacerbate asthma and respiratory disease, and emissions
of carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change.
The BE Tool was not designed to assess every aspect of the built environment. Rather the
tool assesses a core set of features agreed upon by subject matter experts to be most
relevant. The core features assessed in the BE Tool include: built environment
infrastructure (e.g., road type, curb cuts/ramps, intersections/crosswalks, traffic
control, transportation), walkability (e.g. sidewalk/path features, walking safety,
aesthetics & amenities), bikeability (e.g., bicycle lane/path features), recreational
sites and structures, and the food environment (e.g., access to grocery stores,
convenience stores, farmers markets, etc.). Additional questions or modules could be added
by users if more detail about an aspect of the built environment, such as the nutrition
environment or pedestrian environment, is desired.