Awards honor ‘healthy’ design

The county Public Health Advisory Committee connects sustainable building and health

The Clark County Public Health Advisory Committee is sponsoring an awards program that acknowledges the positive effects of sustainable development.

The awards, the first of their kind for the county, are aimed at promoting awareness of healthy buildings and developments and the effect those buildings can have on public health.

They will be given out at 11:30 a.m. May 14 at the Vancouver Hilton, 301 W. Sixth St.

"We’re trying to build awareness in the community of things to do for healthy community design and sustainable community design and how to create an incentive for it," said David Seabrook, chairman of the Clark County Public Health Advisory Committee. "Some of the more progressive builders, designers and architects recognize there’s an incredible market for these types of products and design that the public is looking for."

The Health Advisory Committee is presenting the awards in cooperation with the Clark County Community Development and Clark County Public Health. The committee is appointed by the county’s Board of Health.

The awards recognize two categories: Healthy Community Design and Sustainable Community Design.

Healthy Community Design is a site plan, subdivision design or completed building that increases the health of citizens. Sustainable Community Design recognizes a program, project or building design that increases the long-term sustainability of the community through reduction of pollutants or conservation of resources.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Richard Jackson, a pediatrician and director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers of Disease Control for nine years. He is currently an adjunct professor of Environmental Health and of City and Regional Planning at University of California Berkley.

Jackson is an internationally known speaker on the relationship between personal health and the environment.

Seabrook said the idea for the awards stems from the council’s belief that there is a connection between the built environment and people’s health.

"We thought it would be great to recognize some of the progress and advances and efforts being made around the county," he said.

The committee has not selected the winners, but he said projects that would be contenders include a study by Washington State University Vancouver and New Tradition Homes. The study looked at increasing a home’s energy efficiency by insulating the crawl space.

Another project is a walkway along 164th Avenue in Hockinson. The walkway promotes pedestrian safety and is made of pervious concrete, which allows ground water to soak into the soil rather than run-off.

"We are shooing for the bigger picture, in terms of public health – developments that promote things such as walking and other activities, so we can address obesity in our community," he said. "We’re also looking at communities designed to easily connect with public transit, to promote the conservation of energy and natural resources."

Each award will include a $1,000 scholarship in the winner’s name going to Washington State University Vancouver students pursuing a career in public health, community design or community sustainability.