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The Built Environment, Climate Change, & Health

Margalit Younger, Heather R. Morrow-Almeida, Stephen M. Vindigni, and Andrew L. Dannenberg

Abstract: “The earth’s climate is changing, due largely to greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity. These human-generated gases derive in part from aspects of the built environment such as transportation systems and infrastructure, building construction and operation, and land-use planning. Transportation, the largest end-use consumer of energy, affects human health directly through air pollution and subsequent respiratory effects, as well as indirectly through physical activity behavior. Buildings contribute to climate change, influence transportation, and affect health through the materials utilized, decisions about sites, electricity and water usage, and landscape surroundings. Land use, forestry, and agriculture also contribute to climate change and affect health by increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, shaping the infrastructures for both transportation and buildings, and affecting access to green spaces. Vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected with regard to transportation, buildings, and land use, and are most at risk for experiencing the effects of climate change. Working across sectors to incorporate a health promotion approach in the design and development of built environment components may mitigate climate change, promote adaptation, and improve public health.”

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