Built Environment (BE) Program

Two men in hard hats looking down at a blueprint

Our mission is to promote health and wellness through environments where individuals live, learn, work, worship, and play in Harris County, Texas. 

The built environment is a term used to describe the man-made objects or spaces that form a community. This can include buildings, roads, sidewalks, parks, schools, work sites, and homes. It can also encompass services provided to a community, such as public transportation, and water and sanitation.

Studies show the built environment affects human health. For example, it can influence rates of physical activity, impact levels of fruit and vegetable consumption, and change human exposure to air pollutants. As a result, public health experts are now working with planners, developers, engineers, and transportation authorities to help design our communities in a way that prevents disease and improves health.

For more information contact:

Harris County Public Health
Built Environment Program
(713) 274-6300 
Main Switchboard: 
(713) 439-6000

The Built Environment and Health Impact Assessment Unit (BE-HIA) was launched in January 2015, as part of an effort to address health through policy and decision making processes in Harris County, Texas.

To address health through the built environment, the BE-HIA Unit aims to:

  • Increase access to healthy communities and environments
  • Conduct Health Impact Assessments (HIA) and/or rapid needs assessments to examine and mitigate health risk through policy, planning, and development decisions
  • Inform and make recommendations to decision-makers about how to improve health through updates and changes to policies and plans related to the built environment
  • Support cross-sector collaboration to build capacity and share information regarding best practices for healthy community design
  • Utilize Geographic Information Systems to map health data and conduct spatial analysis
  • Engage the community to build local knowledge and support opportunities to facilitate change that promotes health equity
  • Provide technical assistance to communities and agencies interested in improving the built environment and/or conducting an HIA 

The BE-HIA Unit developed an HIA Toolkit to serve as a guide for organizations, planners, public officials and public health practitioners to gain knowledge and understanding of Health Impact Assessment. They can provide expertise and guidance on initiating HIAs or rapid Health Impact Reviews in your community or project plans.