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August 10, 2015

$1.2 million grant boosts efforts to foster healthy places

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The School of Medicine and the U.S. Green Building Council have been awarded a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to advance their Green Health Partnership. This research initiative, led by Chris Pyke, PhD, of the Green Building Council, and UVA’s Matthew Trowbridge, MD, directly addresses longstanding gaps in the availability of practical tools to promote healthy places.

The development and launch of new tools with the expertise of UVA’s top-ranked School of Medicine, leveraging the Green Building Council’s LEED green building rating system, will support RWJF’s vision for a nation-wide Culture of Health by enabling and incentivizing real estate professionals to participate in broader population health promotion efforts.

“The U.S. Green Building Council is pleased to work with UVA to bring the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s vision for a Culture of Health to the built environment,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chairman, USGBC. “Enhancing human health is a longstanding value of the green building movement, and RWJF’s support allows us to create powerful new tools for project teams and new strategies to effectively engage capital markets.”

This new phase of funding from RWJF will allow the UVA/USGBC Green Health Partnership to focus on developing two complementary sets of tools:

New tools for green building project teams to create healthy places

The team will engage with a network of collaborators to create and demonstrate the value of an innovative process for the promotion of public health through the design, construction and operation of green buildings. The goal is to merge green building’s longstanding emphasis on integrative design with well-established public health approaches, such as health impact assessment. The result will be buildings that more systematically, directly and effectively address the health and wellness needs and desires of their occupants and surrounding communities.

New tools for real estate investors to promote healthy places

The team will partner with the Amsterdam-based Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) to bring a public health lens to assessments of commercial real estate portfolios. The goal is to empower institutional investors to pursue health and wellness as investable attributes of real estate in the same way green building allows investment in sustainability performance. The result will be new opportunities to leverage private capital to create and manage healthier buildings and communities.

“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation values the opportunity to continue work with both the UVA School of Medicine and the U.S. Green Building Council to further promote a national Culture of Health,” said Sharon Roerty, RWJF Senior Program Officer. “Partners with influence over the built environment, such as USGBC, combined with the public health expertise of institutions like the University of Virginia allow us to drive community development that promotes health and well-being at a national scale.”

For more information, visit the Green Building Information Gateway .

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