Successful aging is in part the result of the cumulative effects of years of interaction with the physical environment. Starting even before birth, environmental factors such as air quality, availability of well-designed outdoor spaces and transit options, living conditions, and toxin exposure affect our physical and mental health. These factors are also pathways by which inequality affects physical health – environmental quality is often worse for children and adults of lower socioeconomic status, leading to poorer health as they age. Making communities Longevity-Ready for everyone means recognizing the way our environment affects well-being at all ages in the context of a 100-year life.
This year we challenge student design teams around the world to examine the physical environments in their communities and identify opportunities to design for an environment that supports long lives. Students are encouraged to consider all aspects of their physical environments including public spaces, indoor spaces, and urban design. Designs might target:
- Outdoor and green spaces
- Airborne pollutants and household toxins
- Mitigation of weather extremes (e.g., heat mitigation) and climate change
- Public infrastructure, including housing and transportation
- Moving toward sustainable cities
- Energy consumption reductions