Design, development, and public health
Conceptualizing health and wellness strategies for multifamily projects through a private development lens
As awareness of the built environment's impact on individual and community health spreads through design and construction, different stakeholders are engaging in conversations of strategies and metrics. This paper explores the structure, methodology, and findings of research supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation addressing how multifamily developers conceptualize, discuss and implement health strategies in their projects.
Framed in a Critical Theory perspective, this research first explores the traditional multifamily development decision-making process, specifically targeting how early adopters in multifamily development are discussing health and wellness in their projects. By unpacking the discussions around health and wellbeing in design, real estate development, and public health, aligned concepts are identified to operationalize these concepts for further exploration.
Using a comparative case study strategy addressing how and why (Yin 2017), five developers positioned as early adopters were engaged to better understand how they each conceptualize, implement and measure health strategies in their multifamily projects. Two-day in-depth interviews were held in two initial developers' home offices, addressing their standard design and decision-making processes and evolving into specific consideration of various health strategies. Four additional developers were engaged either over the phone or in person. Interview protocol ensured that discussion topics were standardized at the outset, with the following topics addressed with each partner: (1) company mission, (2) organizational structure, (3) differentiation in the market, (4) company evaluation metrics, (5) assessment scales, (6) decision-making processes, (7) market trends, (8) use of evidence-based data, (9) internal health discussions, and (10) investor relationships. Cyclical data collection, transcription, and analysis allowed the interview protocol to be modified for emergent topics. Site visits, website analysis, and clicks through national online real estate databases also contributed to a holistic perspective of this complex problem.
Findings indicate that multifamily developers are focusing on upfront, marketable strategies that are likely to foster mental and social health, but with little regard of applying any form of evaluative metrics. Rating systems addressing health are of little help. When asked directly about choices to influence the health of residents, participants heavily cited (1) location, emphasizing access to community amenities; (2) place making, for community building and social and mental wellbeing; and (3) physical fitness opportunities through fitness spaces. Even those developers viewed as early adopters are uncomfortable discussing health strategies using a public health lens. This research intends to highlight interdisciplinary conversations surrounding health in multifamily real estate, contributing to more rigorous adoption of health strategies in this challenging building type. These findings can be valuable to stakeholders in design, development, private investment, property management, public health, community design, and policy.
Anderson, Bendix. 2015. "Green Roofs Grow on Multifamily Buildings in Major U.S. Cities." National Real Estate Investor.
APHA. 2018. "What is Public Health?". American Public Health Association, accessed October 18. https://www.apha.org/what-is-public-health.
Baker, Lindsay, and Harvey Bernstein. 2012. The Impact of School Buildings on Student Health and Performance: A Call for Research. Washington DC: U.S. Green Building Council & McGraw Hill Construction.
Brownson, R. C., J. E. Fielding, and C. M. Maylahn. 2009. "Evidence-Based Public Health: A Fundamental Concept for Public Health Practice." Annual Review of Public Health 30:175-201. doi: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.publhealth.031308.100134.
Carroll, S. J., T. Niyonsenga, N. T. Coffee, A. W. Taylor, and M. Daniel. 2017. "Does Physical Activity Mediate the Associations Between Local-Area Descriptive Norms, Built Environment Walkability, and Glycosylated Hemoglobin?" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14 (9). doi: 10.3390/ijerph14090953.
CfAD. 2018. Fitwel. New York, NY: Center for Active Design.
Chan. 2017. "School buildings can influence student health, performance."
Chan, W. R., J. M. Logue, X. Wu, N. E. Klepeis, W. J. Fisk, F. Noris, and B. C. Singer. 2018. "Quantifying fine particle emission events from time"resolved measurements: Method description and application to 18 California low"income apartments." Indoor Air 28 (1):89-101. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12425.
DDA. 2016. The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016: Tactical Intelligence to Transform Building Design and Construction. In SmartMarket Report. Bedford, MA: Dodge Data & Analytics
EPA. 2001. Healthy Buildings, Healthy People: A Vision for the 21st Century. Washington DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Evans, Marion Willard. 2011. "Chapter 2: Basic Concepts in Public Health." In Introduction to Public Health for Chiropractors, edited by Michael T. Haneline and William C. Meeker. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Felluga, Dino Franco. 2015. Critical Theory: The Key Concepts Routledge Key Guides. London: Routledge.
Gan, Wen Qi, Wayne T. Sanderson, Steven R. Browning, and David M. Mannino. 2017. "Different types of housing and respiratory health outcomes." Preventive Medicine Reports 7:124-129.
GRESB. 2018. "2018 GRESB Health & Well-being Module: Insights and Implications." Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, accessed October 18. https://gresb.com/.
Hernandez, Cheri Ann. 2009. "Theoretical Coding in Grounded Theory Methodology." Grounded Theory Review 8 (3):51-60.
Hopkins, Erin A., Dustin C. Read, and Rosemary Carucci Goss. 2017. "Promoting sustainability in the United States multifamily property management industry." Journal of Housing and the Built Environment 32 (2):361-376. doi: 10.1007/s10901-016-9516-3.
Horkheimer, Max, and Matthew J. O'Connell. 1975. Critical Theory: Selected Essays: Continuum Publishing Corporation.
ILFI. 2016. Living Building Challenge 3.1. Seattle, WA: International Living Future Institute.
IWBI. 2018. WELL v2â„¢ pilot. New York, NY: International WELL Building Institute pbc.
Jun, Hee-Jung, and Misun Hur. 2015. "The relationship between walkability and neighborhood social environment: The importance of physical and perceived walkability." Applied Geography 62:115-124. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2015.04.014.
JustStand. 2017. "Why Caring About Your Office Workers' Health is Good Business." September 14.
Klimek, Ed. 2016. "Building for Wellness." Commercial Real Estate Development Association Development Magazine.
Kottke, Thomas, Andriana Abariotes, and Joel B Spoonheim. 2018. "Access to Affordable Housing Promotes Health and Well-Being and Reduces Hospital Visits." The Permanente Journal 22:17-79. doi: https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/17-079.
Kowaleski-Jones, L., B. B. Brown, J. X. Fan, H. A. Hanson, K. R. Smith, and C. D. Zick. 2017. "The joint effects of family risk of obesity and neighborhood environment on obesity among women." Social Science & Medicine 195:17-24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.10.018.
Lempert, L.B. 2007. "Asking Questions of the Data: Memo Writing in the Grounded Theory Tradition." In The SAGE Handbook of Grounded Theory, edited by A. Bryant and K. Charmaz, 245-264. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
Mahendra, A., J. Y. Polsky, E. Robitaille, M. Lefebvre, T. McBrien, and L. M. Minaker. 2017. "Status report - Geographical retail food environment measures for use in public health." Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada 37 (10):357-362. doi: https://doi.org/10.24095/hpcdp.37.10.06.
Maqbool, Nabihah, Janet Viveiros, and Mindy Ault. 2015. The Impacts of Affordable Housing
on Health: A Research Summary. Washington DC: Center for Housing Policy.
McCormick, Kathleen. 2013. Intersections: Health and the Built Environment. In Washington DC: Urban Land Institute.
McNeill, LH, MW Kreuter, and SV Subramanian. 2006. "Social environment and physical activity: a review of concepts and evidence.
." Social Science & Medicine 63 (If 4):1011-1022.
Rider, Traci Rose. 2017. "How health factors into green building rating systems: Living Building Challenge." https://www.aia.org/articles/149291-how-health-factors-into-green-building-rati:31.
Saunders, R. P., M. Dowda, K. Mciver, S. M. McDonald, and R. R. Pate. 2018. "Physical and Social Contexts of Physical Activity Behaviors of Fifth and Seventh Grade Youth." Journal of School Health 88 (2). doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12587.
Srinivasan, Shobha, Liam R. O'Fallon, and Allen Dearry. 2011. "Creating Healthy Communities, Healthy Homes, Healthy People: Initiating a Research Agenda on the Built Environment and Public Health." American Journal of Pubilc Health 93 (9):1446-1450. doi: https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.93.9.1446.
Su, Shiliang, Jianhua Pi, Huan Xie, Zhongliang Cai, and Min Weng. 2017. "Community deprivation, walkability, and public health: Highlighting the social inequalities in land use planning for health promotion." Land Use Policy 67:315-326. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2017.06.005.
Underhill, L. J., M. P. Fabian, K. Vermeer, M. Sandel, G. Adamkiewicz, J. H. Leibler, and J. I. Levy. 2018. "Modeling the resiliency of energy"efficient retrofits in low"income multifamily housing." Indoor Air 28 (3):459-468. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12446.
USGBC. 2013. LEED Reference Guide for Green Building Design and Construction v4. Washington DC: U.S. Green Building Council.
Whitaker, Jaclyn, Nathan Stodola, Lexi Quint, Corey Enck, Sara Cederberg, and Megan Sparks. 2017. People + Planet: Applying LEED and the WELL Building Standard. Washington, DC: Green Business Certification Inc & International WELL Building Institute.
Yin, Robert K. 2017. Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods. Sixth ed: SAGE Publications.
Zhao, P., M. P. Kwan, and S. Zhou. 2018. "The Uncertain Geographic Context Problem in the Analysis of the Relationships between Obesity and the Built Environment in Guangzhou." International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15 (2). doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15020308.
Copyright (c) 2018 Author
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal which is under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).