Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife. It is defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable. As indicated by the I=PAT equation, environmental impact (I) or degradation is caused by the combination of an already very large and increasing human population (P), continually increasing economic growth or per capita affluence (A), and the application of resource depleting and polluting technology (T).

Environmental degradation is one of the Ten Threats officially cautioned by the High Level Threat Panel of the United Nations. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction defines environmental degradation as “The reduction of the capacity of the environment to meet social and ecological objectives, and needs”. Environmental degradation is of many types. When natural habitats are destroyed or natural resources are depleted, the environment is degraded. Efforts to counteract this problem include environmental protection and environmental resources management.

Low energy buildings

The meaning of the term ‘low-energy house’ has changed over time, but in Europe it generally refers to a house that uses around half of the German or Swiss low-energy standards referred to below for space heating, typically in the range from 30 kWh/m²a to 20 kWh/m²a