Between 2011 and 2014, the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division conducted three health impact assessments (HIAs) on elements of Portland Metro’s Climate Smart Communities planning project. The Portland metro regional government requested the HIAs to ensure that decision-makers had access to public health evidence and best practices as they shaped and approved a greenhouse gas reduction plan for light-duty vehicles.
This HIA used the Integrated Transport and Health Impact Model (ITHIM) to predict the effects on physical activity, exposure to air pollutants, and traffic collisions of a proposed strategy to reduce the region’s per capita vehicle miles traveled. Transportation choices can help people integrate physical activity into their daily routines, which research shows can help reduce the risk of chronic disease. ITHIM calculations estimated that the proposed strategy would avoid 126 premature deaths, reduce illnesses by 1.6 percent annually by 2035, and possibly lower health care costs in the region.
Development and adoption of Oregon Metro’s Climate Smart Communities planning project for Portland was completed in three phases. In phase one, Metro staff worked with partners including the Oregon Health Authority to research strategies used to reduce emissions in communities across the region and nation, and around the world. This work resulted in a toolbox describing the range of potential strategies, their effectiveness at reducing emissions, and other potential benefits. In phase two, Metro staff members collaborated with regional technical and policy advisory committees and business and community leaders to craft three approaches as well as criteria to evaluate them. In phase three, Oregon Metro adopted the Climate Smart Strategy with broad support from local and state government partners.
This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.