Developing Our Built Environment Approach
The Tennessee Department of Health supports the creation of healthy built environments as part of its primary prevention efforts. In 2015, the Tennessee Department of Health convened a group of staff and partners to develop a built environment strategy for the department. The group developed a set of recommendations that have all since been implemented:
Recommendation: Create a taskforce of multiple state agencies focused on improving livability in Tennessee communities and promote Health in All Policies.
- Solution: The Tennessee Livability Collaborative was established in 2016, a working group of 17 state agencies, departments, and commissions.
Recommendation: Designate an executive position to lead the department's built environment efforts.
- Solution: The Office of Primary Prevention was established in 2015, led by an experienced built environment practitioner and planner.
Recommendation: Create regional built environment coordinator positions at the health department to provide technical assistance to local communities.
- Solution: The Healthy Development Coordinator positions were established in 2017. A coordinator is housed at each of the health department's seven regional health offices.
Recommendation: Provide examples of policies, resources, and best practices for health-promoting built environment strategies.
- Solution: A suite of built enviornment and health tools was developed, including case studies, toolkits, trainings, and guides.
Recommendation: Align strategic planning with built enviornment initiatives and establish internal/external collaborations.
Recommendation: Convene partners to identify and fund built environment projects.
- Solution: The Tennessee Department of Health's Built Environment Grant Programs were established and have funded over 140 community projects to-date.
Recommendation: Develop communication tools around health and the built environment.
- Solution: The Healthy Places Website and the Built Environment and Health Newsletter were created. The newsletter is distributed monthly to over 700 subscribers nationwide.
Recommendation: Monitor and evaluate built environment efforts.
- Solution: The Built Environment Evaluation Guide provides tools and techniques to assist local communities with evaluating built enviornment projects. The department's Built Environment Grant Programs and Primary Prevention Plans are monitored and evaluated annually.