Editor’s note: Welcome to Grist’s presentation of Alex Steffen’s new book Carbon Zero. We’ll be posting a new chapter every day till we’re done — here’s the full table of contents. And this post will tell you a little more about the project. If you like what you read, you can order Carbon Zero from Amazon.

Shelter: working with nature to drop emissions

Once we’re thinking differently about our streets, we need to start thinking differently about our buildings as well. How we build has a major impact on our climate emissions. To see why, we need to look at buildings themselves.