Embodied energy

Embodied energy is associated with processed materials and products used in construction and refurbishment.
Embodied energy includes the energy used to:

  • obtain natural resources;
  • produce the materials and components;
  •  transport components during production and the finished product to site.
As delivered energy is reduced through more energy efficient design, the level of embodied energy becomes increasingly significant. Embodied energy is closely linked with the life cycle and environmental costs of a raw material and the materials manufacture, lifetime durability and end of use disposal.

Embodied energy is a major factor in determining a materials sustainability. Local materials are favoured as transport energy costs are greatly reduced. The more highly processed a material is the higher its embodied energy. Highest embodied energy levels are found in metals - steel requires 75,000kWh/m3 compared to building timber at 110kWh/m3.

Material Embodied Energy
Aluminium – virgin 218
Carpet 74.4
General insulation 45.00
Steel 24.40
Glass 15.00
Timber 8.5
Brick – common 3.00
Concrete 0.95
Slate 0.1 to 1.0
Aggregate 0.1

Embodied energy of common building materials (source: Inventory of Carbon and Energy, 2008)

WLGA - CLILC Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru / Welsh Assembly Government