The article deals with efforts to reduce energy as a means to support the formulation of climate change public policies and strategies. Energy use in building design and operation is integral to these efforts. Energy efficiency advocates suggest that new buildings can (and should) be net-zero energy, and retrofitting existing buildings can achieve savings of approximately 50% (Architecture 2030, 2014). This Building Research & Information special issue contributes to the field by considering energy and climate change solutions in India’s building stock. This special issue’s focus on the building stock in India is important for global climate change outcomes for three reasons: (1) India’s size and scale; (2) its rate of growth; and (3) its stage of development. An important implication of these characteristics is the potential to reduce energy demand (and the carbon footprint) from India’s building stock. India’s early stages of development thereby provide a distinctive opportunity to examine and inform public policy and practice that will profoundly influence future energy and carbon trajectories, with implications that extend well beyond the country’s borders. This special issue sets out to help answer this question by developing and extending the growing body of research on the topic, with the aim to help define the built environment in India as an emerging and important field of socio-technical enquiry. The special issue’s framing of the problem departs from the often used techno-economic view and instead suggests that both technical infrastructures, such as the built environment, and social infrastructures, such as policies, professions, habits and norms, shape behaviour, and as a consequence offer significant potential for reducing overall energy demand and GHG emissions (Creutzig et al., 2016; Janda, 2011; Moezzi & Janda, 2014). The special issue also seeks to address the research, policy and management implications of different approaches to India’s buildings. In doing so, it helps fills a gap in the literature created by the dominant focus on developed countries (Bai et al., 2018; Stern et al., 2016). This editorial sets a three-pronged multidisciplinary framework for current and future research on India’s building stock and associates the papers in the special issue with this agenda. It also points to the importance of international research collaborations in seeking solutions to India’s energy and climate change challenges.