The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Community Health (DCH) has released a new tool that is designed to measure the makeup of the built environment called the Built Environment Assessment Tool, or BE Tool. According to the DCH, the built environment includes the physical makeup of where we live, learn, work and play—our homes, schools, businesses, streets and sidewalks, open spaces and transportation options. The built environment can influence overall community health and individual behaviors such as physical activity and healthy eating.
The BE Tool assesses the quality of our built environments, and closely examines what the DCH consider the core features: the infrastructure such as roads, crosswalks, and public transportation; the walkability of an area and the access to safe paths or sidewalks; the availability of bike paths or lanes; the recreational areas available to the public; and the access to food markets and stores.
The BE Tool includes information on measuring built environments, training and managing personnel that will rate the environments, field procedures, data coding and scoring instructions, links to resources and the assessment tool.
While there are already many other built environment assessment tools available, the DCH created this tool specifically to help community planners and evaluators understand which features of our built environment are crucial to a healthy community and should be measured and examined.
The tool and accompanying manual help focus the assessment on the core features through data collection, and is a systematic instrument that helps measure this data while examining multiple areas of the public health sphere. Unlike other available assessments, the BE Tool allows the user to add questions or modules to further customize the assessment if desired. To read more about the new BE Tool and download it, click here.