• Logo

An Introduction to Sustainability in the Built Environment

Discover the importance of the built environment in fighting the climate crisis and the role you can play in influencing change.

1,581 enrolled on this course

High rise building with renewable and recyclable materials in building projects which is sustainable construction
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Unpack sustainable building design

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 the different approaches that can improve sustainability in the built environment across the globe.

By the end, you’ll feel equipped to advocate for sustainable building design and delivery and be empowered to apply this knowledge in your own context.

Learn from the experts at UKGBC

Throughout the course, you’ll be guided by the experts at the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC). You’ll take part in a range of activities to understand the key challenges in achieving sustainable buildings and net zero.

Explore green building practices

You’ll gain an understanding of core sustainability concepts and how they play out in the built environment. This will include climate change, resources use, nature and biodiversity, social value, and health and wellbeing.

You’ll also discover building typologies and interpret variations in green building practices. Next, you’ll delve into a variety of case studies to see green building in real-life contexts.

Learn how to take action for a sustainable future

Finally, you’ll learn how to turn your knowledge into action. You’ll investigate the unique role you can play in influencing the sustainability in the built environment around you.

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to apply your knowledge to your work, community, or home and take action to positively influence sustainability outcomes.


  • 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 sustainability challenge & opportunity

      In this section we will be exploring what the global sustainability challenge and opportunity is.

    • The role of the built environment

      In this section we look at how the built environment both contributes to, and is affected by, the global sustainability challenge.

    • Your built environment: context

      In this section you will be given the opportunity to explore and define what constitutes your unique built environment context.

    • 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


    • What to expect this week

      In this week we will be exploring different concepts of sustainability in the built environment.

    • What is sustainability in the built environment?

      In this section we explore what sustainability means in the context of the built environment.

    • Five key concepts of sustainability in the built environment

      In this section we will be learning about five key concepts relating to sustainability in the built environment.

    • Your built environment: solutions

      In this section we revisit our activity from last week, and explore the solutions that exist to solve our identified sustainability challenges.

    • 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 sustainability in the built environment globally.

    • Case study review

      In this section we review a series of case studies of best-practice sustainable 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 wrap of this week's content and you get to complete a quiz to test your learning.

  • Week 4


    • Your final week!

      In this section you can find out what to expect from your final week.

    • Creating change

      In this section we explore what it means - and how to - create change in relation to sustainability in the built environment.

    • Your pledge

      In this section you have the opportunity to use all of your learnings from the last 4 weeks to set a sustainability pledge to influence 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...

  • Describe the key concepts and examples of sustainability in the built environment
  • Assess variations in green building practices globally
  • Apply your knowledge to your work, community or home
  • Contribute positively to influence sustainability outcomes within your own built environment
  • Collaborate with your new-found sustainable building community to continue learning

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in the role the built environment plays in creating a sustainable future.

You may already be working in the built environment and looking to upskill in the field of sustainability or you may have knowledge of sustainability and want to apply this to the context of the built environment. If you have limited knowledge of both buildings and sustainability and want to learn more about sustainable design and delivery, this course will give you a solid introduction.

Who will you learn with?

I've worked in the Built Environment industry for the last 20 years as a Town Planner, Community Development practitioner and Sustainability specialist.

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

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...