Physical Environment Air & Water Quality Housing & Transit Search Policies & Programs

Display All Policies & Programs

Mixed-use development

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise Housing & Transit
Decision Makers: Community Development Professionals Local Government State Government
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

Is this program or policy in use in your community? Tell us about it.


Mixed-use development supports a combination of land uses within a project (e.g., residential, commercial, recreational, etc.) as opposed to developing an area for a single purpose. Mixed-use development projects can be site-specific, neighborhood-based, or regional, and can be incorporated into several types of projects including new development, redevelopment, brownfields, and Smart Growth initiatives. Mixed-use development is sometimes implemented through zoning regulations that require it in specific areas or throughout a municipality.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased physical activity
Increased active transportation
Improved health outcomes
Reduced vehicle miles traveled

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that design and land use policies, including mixed-use development, increase physical activity (CG-Physical activity, Brownson 2006, Saelens 2008, CDC MMWR-Khan 2009).

People walk and ride bicycles more often in mixed-use development areas, which have higher densities and incorporate places to work, shop, or play within residential areas (Brownson 2006, CDC MMWR-Khan 2009). Walking for transportation increases with variety in land use, residential density, and shorter distances to non-residential destinations (Saelens 2008, EPA-Kramer 2013). Mixed-use development and Smart Growth strategies can also be used in rural and suburban areas to sustain and promote active living (Dalbey 2008, Dunham-Jones 2009). Children living in Smart Growth neighborhoods appear to engage in more physical activity with friends, within walking distance of their homes, and in green spaces than those living in conventional neighborhoods (Dunton 2012).

Public health and community development partnerships promoting mixed-use development can help to improve community health outcomes (Cassidy 2011). Mixed-use development can also reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which helps improve air quality (EPA-Kramer 2013, Salon 2012).


United States

Mixed-use development is happening across the country, often as part of Smart Growth projects. In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency granted its National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement to Jackson, TN; Hamilton, OH; and Newark, NJ for their innovative use of mixed-use development (US EPA-Smart growth). 

Non-profit organizations can support site-specific mixed-use development projects throughout a region, for example, the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation in Oakland, CA and the greater East Bay area (EBALDC-Healthy neighborhoods). Individual organizations can also support efforts around the country, as in the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU-Building places). The Smart Growth Network, a partnership of non-profit, business, and government organizations, also supports mixed-use development and smart growth projects throughout the US (SGO-Smart growth).

Via Verde in the Bronx, NY is an example of a mixed-use development housing project (Via Verde-Green living). 


WI Comprehensive Planning Grants support mixed-use development throughout the state; however, no grants have been awarded since 2010, and no grants are planned for the future at this time (WI DOA-Comprehensive planning grants).

Implementation Resources

ALBD - Active Living by Design (ALBD). Increasing physical activity and healthy eating through community design. Accessed on May 9, 2017
ICMA-Mishkovsky 2010 - Mishkovsky N, Dalbey M, Bertaina S, Read A, McGalliard T. Putting Smart Growth to work in rural communities. Washington, DC: International City/County Management Association (ICMA); 2010. Accessed on May 10, 2017
LHC-Rockeymoore 2014 - Rockeymoore M, Moscetti C, Fountain A. Rural Childhood Obesity Prevention Toolkit. Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC). 2014. Accessed on May 9, 2017
LHC-Toolkit 2009 - Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC). Action strategies toolkit: A guide for local and state leaders working to create healthy communities and prevent childhood obesity. Princeton: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF); 2009. Accessed on May 10, 2017
LISC-Affordable housing - Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Helping neighbors build communities: Affordable housing. Accessed on May 19, 2017
MA-Mixed-use - Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED). Mixed-use development/transit oriented development. Accessed on May 19, 2017
NACCHO-Community Design - National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO). Healthy community design toolkit. Accessed on March 1, 2016
SGO-Resources - Smart Growth Online (SGO). Smart growth resources. Accessed on May 19, 2017
ULI-Building healthy places - Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Building Healthly Places Initiative. Building Healthy Places Toolkit: Strategies for Enhancing Health in the Built Environment. Accessed on May 19, 2017
US DOT-PBIC Sidewalks - US Department of Transportation (US DOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC). Sidewalks and walkways. Accessed on May 9, 2017
US EPA-Trip generation - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Mixed-use trip generation model. Accessed on May 19, 2017
WI DOA-Gilman 2007 - Gilman J, Stoll L, Schuette A, et al. Wisconsin comprehensive planning: Implementation guide toolkit. Stevens Point: Center for Land Use Education, Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA), Global Environmental Management Education Center (GEM), University of Wisconsin Extension; 2007. Accessed on May 19, 2017

Citations - Evidence

Brownson 2006* - Brownson RC, Haire-Joshu D, Luke DA. Shaping the context of health: A review of environmental and policy approaches in the prevention of chronic diseases. Annual Review of Public Health. 2006;27:341–70. Accessed on May 10, 2017
Cassidy 2011 - Cassidy A. Health policy brief: Community development and health: Organizations promoting jobs, housing, and better conditions in low-income neighborhoods also focus on health. Health Affairs; November 10, 2011. Accessed on May 19, 2017
CDC MMWR-Khan 2009 - Khan LK, Sobush K, Keener D, et al. Recommended community strategies and measurements to prevent obesity in the United States. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 2009;58(RR-07):1-26. Accessed on May 10, 2017
CG-Physical activity - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Physical activity. Accessed on May 23, 2017
Dalbey 2008* - Dalbey M. Implementing smart growth strategies in rural America: Development patterns that support public health goals. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. 2008;14(3):238-43. Accessed on May 19, 2017
Dunham-Jones 2009 - Dunham-Jones E, Williamson J. Retrofitting suburbia. Washington, DC: Urban Land Institute; 2009. Accessed on May 19, 2017
Dunton 2012 - Dunton GF, Intille SS, Wolch J, Pentz MA. Investigating the impact of a smart growth community on the contexts of children’s physical activity using Ecological Momentary Assessment. Health & Place. 2012;18(1):76–84. Accessed on May 19, 2017
EPA-Kramer 2013 - Kramer MG. Our built and natural environments: A technical review of the interactions among land use, transportation, and environmental quality. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); 2013. Accessed on May 10, 2017
Saelens 2008 - Saelens BE, Handy SL. Built environment correlates of walking: A review. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2008;40(7 Suppl):S550-66. Accessed on May 24, 2016
Salon 2012* - Salon D, Boarnet MG, Handy S, Spears S, Tal G. How do local actions affect VMT? A critical review of the empirical evidence. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment. 2012;17(7):495–508. Accessed on May 9, 2017

Citations - Implementation

CNU-Building places - Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). Building places people love. Accessed on May 19, 2017
EBALDC-Healthy neighborhoods - East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC). Building healthy, vibrant and safe neighborhoods. Accessed on May 19, 2017
SGO-Smart growth - Smart Growth Online (SGO). Smart Growth: Supporting the development of vibrant, healthy communities Accessed on May 19, 2017
US EPA-Smart growth - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Smart growth: Program, resources, topics, partnerships, and the 2015 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. Accessed on May 10, 2017
Via Verde-Green living - Via Verde, Center for Active Design. Via Verde: A new model for affordable, healthy, and green urban living. Accessed on May 19, 2017
WI DOA-Comprehensive planning grants - Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA). Comprehensive planning grant program. Accessed on May 19, 2017

Page Last Updated

March 10, 2016

* Journal subscription may be required for access.