Big global shifts in recent decades have seen populations rise and move to cities and urban areas where space is limited and the provision of housing a challenge. The built environment is one of the biggest users of energy and emitters of carbon, both in construction and day to day use.
But there are huge economic, environmental and social gains to be made from making sure that new buildings are zero carbon, and existing buildings are retrofitted to become energy efficient. New thinking about how where we build relates to where we work can also radically reduce energy use and improve quality of life by, for example, designing out unnecessary commuting in cars.
New or revived interest in common land ownership, and cooperative or part-communal housing developments are further demonstrating how to change how we live to radically and rapidly reduce our climate impact, while also easing a range of social and health problems.