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An Introduction to Climate Change and Carbon Reduction in the Built Environment

Understand how the built environment contributes to climate change and how sustainable buildings can lead to a low carbon future.

474 enrolled on this course

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  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Explore low carbon design in the built environment

The built environment currently contributes around 40% of annual CO2 emissions globally. Therefore, improving the sustainability of the built environment is imperative if we are to stay within a 1.5 degree world.

On this four-week course, you’ll be introduced to climate change and low carbon design in the built environment, and the different approaches to reduce carbon in buildings globally.

By the end, you’ll feel equipped to advocate for low carbon building design and delivery, and be able to apply your knowledge to your work, community, or home.

Unpack climate resilience and risks

You’ll start by exploring why carbon and other greenhouse gases play a central role in climate change, and how the built environment either exacerbates or mitigates this issue.

Next, you’ll delve into the key concepts relating to carbon and climate change such as net zero carbon buildings, energy performance, climate risks, and resilience.

Delve into sustainable buildings

You’ll unpack a variety of case studies investigating low carbon buildings. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to implement best practices in your own work.

Next, you’ll receive guidance on how you can take action by investigating the unique role you play in reducing carbon in the built environment.

Learn from the experts at UK Green Building Council

Throughout the course, you’ll be guided by the experts at the UK Green Building Council. By the end, you’ll have the understanding of the key challenges to achieving sustainable buildings and net zero.

With this knowledge, you’ll be empowered to continue your learning journey as part of your new-found green building community.


  • Week 1


    • Welcome to the course!

      Here we provide an introduction to the course, give an overview of what you can expect, and introduce you to your course educators.

    • The climate and carbon crisis

      In this section we will be exploring what the global climate change and carbon reduction imperative is.

    • Climate agreements and initiatives

      This section gives an overview of the climate agreements and initiatives that exist worldwide to mitigate carbon usage and climate change.

    • Climate leadership and business action

      This section will give an overview of leadership that is taking place in reducing carbon.

    • Get inspired

      Time to get inspired! In this activity it is over to you to explore something you find interesting.

    • End of week wrap-up

      Here we provide a wrap up of the week and you can test your knowledge with a quick quiz.

  • Week 2


    • Welcome to week 2: concepts

      This week will explore key concepts relating to climate change and carbon reduction in the built environment.

    • Net zero carbon buildings

      This section will explore concepts such as whole life, net-zero, embodied and operational carbon.

    • Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions

      This sections explores what scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions mean for th built environment.

    • Energy performance

      This section explores energy performance, the performance gap and other energy intensity reduction schemes for the built environment.

    • Climate risks and resilience

      This section explore climate resilience and adaptation for the built environment.

    • Interaction with other sustainability concepts

      This section explores how carbon and climate change interact with other sustainability concepts such as nature & biodiversity or health & wellbeing.

    • End of week wrap-up

      Here we provide a summary of this week's content, and you have the opportunity to test your learning with a quick quiz.

  • Week 3


    • Welcome to Week 3: cases

      Welcome to your third week! You are now over half way through the course. In this week we will be exploring a range of best-practice case studies demonstrating low carbon building.

    • Case study review

      In this section we review a series of case studies of best-practice low carbon building techniques.

    • Create your own case study

      In this section we turn to you, to create and share your own interesting case study.

    • End of week wrap-up

      Here we provide a summary of this week's content, and you have the opportunity to test your learning with a quick quiz.

  • Week 4


    • Your final week!

      This week will look at climate reduction leadership, and learners will explore the change they themselves can make

    • Making a change

      In this section we will explore how business, government and society all contribute to carbon reduction, and how a combination of all three working together is vital.

    • Your influence

      In this section you have the chance to reflect on the influence that you personally can have on reducing carbon emissions in your built environment.

    • This is not the end!

      Here we provide a summary of the course as well as further resources and next steps.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Investigate key concepts and examples of carbon reduction in the built environment
  • Compare practices and techniques to reduce carbon in buildings globally
  • Apply your knowledge to your work, community or home
  • Develop a plan to positively influence low-carbon outcomes within your own built environment
  • Collaborate with other learners as part of your new-found future learn community

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in a low carbon future and how the built environment might contribute to this.

You may be working in the built environment, have existing knowledge on climate change, or you’re simply interested in growing your knowledge in this field.

Who will you learn with?

Holly is a Sustainability Learning Consultant for UKGBC.

Who developed the course?

UK Green Building Council

UKGBC is uniting the UK building industry using sustainability as a catalyst to positively transform the places people use every day.

A charity with over 600 member organisations spanning the entire sector, we represent the voice of the industry’s current and future leaders who are striving for transformational change.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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