Building Healthy Communities

Project Title

Active Design Guidelines 2.0: Promoting Whole Person Health

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Building Healthy Communities

Date Awarded

January 3, 2020






The environments in which people live, work, and play can have a profound impact on their health and wellbeing.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is challenging, and it can be even more challenging when one’s neighborhood is unsafe, infrastructure is in disrepair, or the closest green space is a subway ride away. Active Design is an evidence-based approach that offers practical solutions to support healthy communities. In 2010, the first Active Design Guidelines (ADGs) were developed in New York City and, in 2013, Mayor Bloomberg signed an executive order that required the implementation of Active Design strategies within all new City-funded construction and major renovation projects. As the 10-year anniversary of the initial ADGs approaches, New York City will undertake a comprehensive update to the ADGs to incorporate strategies for “whole person health”—capturing mental wellbeing, social cohesion, equity, safety, civic trust, and community engagement. In 2020, NYHealth awarded the Center for Active Design (CfAD) a grant to update the decade-old ADGs to promote healthier buildings, streets, public spaces, and other aspects of the built environment.

Under this grant, CfAD worked directly with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) and other stakeholders to create an ADG 2.0., informed by the latest academic research and best practices in the field. CfAD strategically incorporated insights from NYHealth’s Building Healthy Communities initiative to build upon existing grantee partnerships and leverage key learnings to inform the updated guidelines. For the research phase, CfAD lead a comprehensive community engagement plan, including interactive workshops, expert interviews, and targeted focus groups, to inform the new guidelines. CfAD then drafted in-depth content and provided editorial support for the ADG 2.0 update. It included case studies and other stories from Building Healthy Communities grantees and other community-based initiatives. Visually appealing, easy-to-understand infographics for both ADG practitioners and community members were created. When ADG 2.0 was ready to be launched, CfAD provided in-person and Web-based trainings to relevant New York City agencies and key practitioners. It also worked with NYCDOHMH to develop fact sheets, editorials, and other materials to advance the City’s ADG 2.0 policy agenda. An updated ADG 2.0 will increase implementation of healthy design and development strategies; increase adoption of health-promoting policies; and, ultimately, improve neighborhood health outcomes.