Embodied energy in building materials has been studied for the past several decades by researchers interested in the relationship between building materials, construction processes, and their environmental impacts.
What is embodied energy?
There are two forms of embodied energy in buildings:
· Initial embodied energy; and
· Recurring embodied energy
1. The initial embodied energy in buildings represents the non-renewable energy consumed in the acquisition of raw materials, their processing, manufacturing, transportation to site, and construction. This initial embodied energy has two components:
- Direct energy the energy used to transport building products to the site, and then to construct the building; and
- Indirect energy the energy used to acquire, process, and manufacture the building materials, including any transportation related to these activities.
2. The recurring embodied energy in buildings represents the non-renewable energy consumed to maintain, repair, restore, refurbish or replace materials, components or systems during the life of the building.
As buildings become more energy-efficient, the ratio of embodied energy to lifetime consumption increases. Clearly, for buildings claiming to be “zero-energy” or “autonomous”, the energy used in construction and final disposal takes on a new significance. […]”<