Energy, energy efficiency, and the built environment

Lancet. 2007 Sep 29;370(9593):1175-87. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61255-0.


Since the last decades of the 19th century, technological advances have brought substantial improvements in the efficiency with which energy can be exploited to service human needs. That trend has been accompanied by an equally notable increase in energy consumption, which strongly correlates with socioeconomic development. Nonetheless, feasible gains in the efficiency and technology of energy use in towns and cities and in homes have the potential to contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse-gas emissions, and to improve health, for example, through protection against temperature-related morbidity and mortality, and the alleviation of fuel poverty. A shift towards renewable energy production would also put increasing focus on cleaner energy carriers, especially electricity, but possibly also hydrogen, which would have benefits to urban air quality. In low-income countries, a vital priority remains the dissemination of affordable technology to alleviate the burdens of indoor air pollution and other health effects in individuals obliged to rely on biomass fuels for cooking and heating, as well as the improvement in access to electricity, which would have many benefits to health and wellbeing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor* / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution, Indoor* / prevention & control
  • City Planning*
  • Conservation of Energy Resources / trends*
  • Environmental Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Pollution / prevention & control
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Humans
  • Urban Health*