PACE EH Online Training Course

Introduction - Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health

The purpose of this course is to equip environmental/public health professionals with strategies for successfully using the Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH) guidebook, a flexible and collaborative community-based environmental health assessment process developed by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), with support by the National Center for Environmental Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After completing this self-paced course, you should be able to:

  • Develop a basic understanding of the philosophy, methodology, and value of PACE EH;
  • Identify skills, resources and capacities needed to facilitate a successful PACE EH process; and
  • Have acquired enough knowledge of the process to fully participate in an in-depth PACE EH regional training.

Upon completion of this course, participants may increase their knowledge through advanced trainings that will be available throughout the United States on an ongoing basis by NACCHO. The PACE EH regional trainings are designed to help participants gain a better understanding of the practical aspects of implementing the process. The regional trainings also offer opportunities to explore broader connections to related topics such as addressing environmental health inequities using PACE EH. Test your knowledge of PACE EH. Click here to take the pre-assessment questionnaire.

Carl Osaki, R.S., M.S.P.H, is Vice-Chair of the Washington State Board of Health and has worked in the field of public health for more than 30 years. 

He empathically feels that “the purpose of PACE EH is to ensure that community values, beliefs, expectations, and perceptions are fully explored and incorporated into the actions determined by policy makers.”
He stresses that “the value to the community through the PACE EH process is the active and meaningful involvement in the development of environmental public health policies or priorities.”

The Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH) guidebook is designed to help communities systematically conduct and act on an assessment of environmental health status in their localities. The methodology takes the user through a community-based process for:

  • Characterizing and evaluating local environmental health conditions and concerns;
  • Identifying populations at risk of exposure to environmental hazards;
  • Identifying and collecting meaningful environmental health data; and
  • Setting priorities for local action to address environmental health problems.

The PACE EH guidebook provides tools and direction for those charged with organizing and leading this action-oriented, locally based process. The process is intended to strengthen a collective understanding of and appreciation for the critical role that environmental health plays in the overall health of a community. It guides users through a comprehensive environmental health assessment that will provide an accurate and verifiable profile of the community’s environmental health status. Community health officials and advocates can then use this profile for proactive, locally appropriate decision making.


Use of this methodology should result in:

  • A thorough and well-documented decision-making and planning process;
  • Effective participation of a well-represented public throughout the process;
  • An enhanced understanding of the community’s environmental health needs;
  • Strengthened community support for the identification and prevention of environmental risks;
  • An enhanced appreciation for the critical connections between health and the environment;
  • An appropriate and equitable distribution of environmental health programs and services, directed to priority environmental health issues; and
  • A plan for action that capitalizes on the strengths of the community and the local health agency to improve the community’s health.


As a result of engaging in a community-based environmental health assessment process, information about a range of environmental health issues facing the community is assembled, along with a listing of informational resources available to the community. Because environmental health assessment is expected to be an ongoing activity at the local level, and not a one-time event, this information should be current and updated every three to five years (or as frequently as deemed appropriate by the assessment team).

Through an effective assessment process, a better understanding of community values and priorities is achieved. In addition, agency responsibilities and other locally available resources to address each issue are identified. A repository of supportive data and information and community resources/expertise is developed and made available to facilitate priority setting, policy development, and future program development. Thus, not only are current community issues addressed, but the local health official who capitalizes on this activity as an opportunity for developing and fostering positive working relationships with his or her community members, including partner agencies and organizations, will realize long-term, wide-ranging benefits.

The 13 Tasks of PACE EH

Task 1: Determine Community Capacity
Task 2: Define/Characterize the Community
Task 3: Assemble a CEHA Team
Task 4: Define the Goals, Objectives and Scope
Task 5: Generate List of EH Issues
Task 6: Analyze Issues w/ Systems Framework
Task 7: Develop Indicators
Task 8: Select Standards
Task 9: Create Issue Profiles
Task 10: Rank Issues
Task 11: Set Priorities for Action
Task 12: Develop Action Plan(s)
Task 13: Evaluate Progress and Plan for the Future


The first time through PACE EH takes approximately 18–24 months.
Tasks 1–3 are stage 1 of the process, averages about 3 months.
Tasks 4–6 are stage 2, averages about 6–12 months.
Tasks 7–9 are stage 3, another 3 months.
Tasks 10–13 are stage 4, takes about 3–6 months.

Course Materials

The Guidebook is written for local public health officials by local public health officials.  It assumes that the local public health agencies will facilitate the process, but nothing prevents other agencies, organizations, or individuals from facilitating.

  • PACE EH—A tool offering local health officials guidance in conducting a community-based environmental health assessment and creating an accurate profile of a community’s environmental health status.
  • PACE EH in Practice—provides illustrations of lessons learned through local applications of PACE EH

All PACE publications are available online and are offered to NACCHO members for free or at discounted rates. Links to supplemental materials and information on technical assistance provided by NACCHO staff and peer advisors can be found on NACCHO’s Web site as well.

In order to view all of the materials, Adobe Acrobat Reader must be installed on the computer.  In order to download a free copy click here.

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