Place shapes behaviors important for health, especially healthy aging. The session will describe features of the built environment, which promote physical health and emotional wellbeing, with a focus on aging populations. It will reveal evidence drawn from research in many domains on how elements of the built environment, such as light, sounds, and physical layout, can help maintain health, enhance physical activity, reduce stress, reduce falls, improve moods, and even act as memory aids to those whose memory is failing. It will show how wearable health and real-time environmental sensors are helping the elderly extend independence while aging in place.
Internationally recognized design and health pioneer, Dr. Esther Sternberg is a dynamic speaker who engages professional and lay audiences alike, conveying complexities of design and health in an engaging and entertaining manner. A physician and medical researcher who applies her cutting-edge research to impacts of the built environment on health, wellbeing and performance, Sternberg is Founding Director of University of Arizona’s Institute on Place, Wellbeing & Performance, Research Director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, and holds the Inaugural Andrew Weil Chair for Research in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine -Tucson. She is founding member of the American Institute of Architects’ Design and Health Leadership Group and AIA Design and Health Research Consortium. She has advised the US Surgeon General, US General Services Administration, US Department of Defense, US Green Building Council, Australian Green Building Council, and the Vatican on the impact of the built environment on health. She began her current work with the GSA, using state-of-the-art wearables to measure the impact of office environments on health, wellbeing and performance, while a Senior Scientist and Section Chief at the National Institutes of Health (1986-2012). In recognition of her many contributions, including her pioneering work in the science of the mind-body connection, she has received the U.S. Public Health Service Superior Service Award; an Honorary Doctorate in Medicine, Trinity College Dublin; and was named by the National Library of Medicine as one of 300 Women Who Changed the Face of Medicine. She has authored more than 225 scholarly articles and two popular books including Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Wellbeing (Harvard University Press), which helped launch the design and health movement, and The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions about the science of the mind-body connection. She created and hosted a PBS Television Special, The Science of Healing, based on her books. She is frequently interviewed by the media and gives keynote addresses to professional and lay audiences, on topics of stress and illness, place and wellness, design and health, and the use of wearable devices to track health and environment. Her recently published landmark paper with the GSA showing the impact of office design on activity and stress (OEM August 2018), received world-wide media attention with the highest Altmetric scores, and is informing design of buildings for health.