Embedded energy, also known as embodied energy, is defined as the Energy that was used in the work of making a product. Embodied energy is attempts to measure the total of all the energy necessary for an entire product Lifecycle. This lifecycle includes raw material extraction, transport,[1]manufacture, assembly, installation, disassembly, deconstruction and/or decomposition.

Different methodologies produce different understandings of the scale and scope of application and the type of energy embodied. Some methodologies are interested in accounting for the energy embodied in terms of oil that support economic processes.

Standards[edit | edit source]

The UK Code for Sustainable Homes and USA LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design are standards in which the embodied energy of a product or material is rated, along with other factors, to assess a building's Environmental impact. Embodied energy is a new concept for which scientists have not yet agreed absolute universal values because there are many variables to take into account, but most agree that products can be compared to each other to see which has more and which has less embodied energy. Comparative lists (for an example, see the Bath University Embodied Energy & Carbon Material Inventory below) contain average absolute values, and explain the factors which have been taken into account when compiling the lists.

Typical embodied energy units used are MJ/kg (megaJoules of energy needed to make a kilogram of product), tCO2 (tonnes of Carbon dioxide created by the energy needed to make a kilogram of product). Converting MJ to tCO2 is not straightforward because different types of energy (oil, wind, solar, nuclear and so on) emit different amounts of carbon dioxide, so the actual amount of carbon dioxide emitted when a product is made will be dependent on the type of energy used in the manufacturing process. For example, the Australian Government[2] gives a global average of 0.098 tCO2 = 1 GJ. This is the same as 1 MJ = 0.098 kgCO2 = 98 gCO2 or 1 kgCO2 = 10.204 MJ.

Related methodologies[edit | edit source]

In the 2000s drought conditions in Australia have generated interest in the application of embodied energy analysis methods to water. This has led to use of the concept of Embodied water.

Terminology[edit | edit source]

David M. Scienceman coined the term emergy as a general synonym for embodied energy.[3]

[edit | edit source]

Embodied energy of construction products per unit of mass: typical figures for Australia
Air dried sawn hardwood 0.5
Stabilised earth 0.7
Concrete blocks 1.5

Embedded Carbon & Energy[edit | edit source]

Here is a link to one of the most complete to date documents on the embedded energy and carbon in materials, Inventory of (Embodied) Carbon & Energy (ICE).

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Advances in free geographic mapping services can help reduce embodied energy of transportation in two ways. First. to choose a route that uses the least fuel and maintains vehicle velocities at their individual maximum fuel efficiency. Secondly, overlays can be used of determining: (i) raw material and products availability as a function of location, and (ii) modes of transportation as a function of emissions. These overlays enable manufacturers access to an easily navigable method to optimize the life cycle of their products by minimizing embodied energy of transportation. Pearce, J.M., Johnson, S.J., & Grant, G.B., 2007. "3D-Mapping Optimization of Embodied Energy of Transportation", Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 51 pp. 435–453. [1]
  2. http://web.archive.org/web/20081018053322/http://www.cmit.csiro.au:80/brochures/tech/embodied/ CSIRO on embodied energy: Australia's foremost scientific institution
  3. Odum 1996, Environmental Accounting: Energy and Environmental Decision Making, Wiley

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • D.H. Clark, G.J. Treloar and R. Blair (2003) 'Estimating the increasing cost of commercial buildings in Australia due to greenhouse emissions trading, in J. Yang, P.S. Brandon and A.C. Sidwell, Proceedings of The CIB 2003 International Conference on Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, Brisbane, Australia.
  • R. Costanza (1979) "Embodied Energy Basis for Economic-Ecologic Systems." PhD Dissertation. Gainesville, FL: Univ. of FL. 254 pp. (CFW-79-02)
  • R.H. Crawford (2005) "Validation of the Use of Input-Output Data for Embodied Energy Analysis of the Australian Construction Industry", Journal of Construction Research, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 71-90.
  • B. Hannon (1973) "The Structure of ecosystems", Journal of Theoretical Biology, 41, pp. 535-546.
  • M. Lenzen (2001) "Errors in conventional and input-output-based life-cycle inventories", "Journal of Industrial Ecology", 4(4), pp. 127-148.
  • M. Lenzen and G.J.Treloar (2002) 'Embodied energy in buildings: wood versus concrete-reply to Börjesson and Gustavsson, Energy Policy, Vol 30, pp. 249-244.
  • W. Leontief (1966) Input-Output Economics, Oxford University Press, New York.
  • J. Martinez-Alier (1990) Ecological Economics: Energy Environment and Society, Basil Blackwell Ltd, Oxford.
  • P. Mirowski (1999) More Heat than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature's Economics, Historical Perspectives on Modern Economics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • H.T. Odum (1994) Ecological and General Systems: An Introduction to Systems Ecology, Colorado University Press, Boulder Colorado.
  • D.M. Scienceman (1987) Energy and Emergy. In G. Pillet and T. Murota (eds), Environmental Economics: The Analysis of a Major Interface. Geneva: R. Leimgruber. pp. 257-276. (CFW-86-26)
  • S.E. Tennenbaum (1988) Network Energy Expenditures for Subsystem Production, MS Thesis. Gainesville, FL: University of FL, 131 pp. (CFW-88-08)
  • G.J. Treloar (1997) Extracting Embodied Energy Paths from Input-Output Tables: Towards an Input-Output-based Hybrid Energy Analysis Method, Economic Systems Research, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 375- 391.
  • G.J. Treloar (1998) A comprehensive embodied energy analysis framework, Ph.D. thesis, Deakin University, Australia.
  • G.J. Treloar, C. Owen and R. Fay (2001) 'Environmental assessment of rammed earth construction systems', Structural survey, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 99-105.
  • G.J.Treloar, P.E.D.Love, G.D.Holt (2001) Using national input-output data for embodied energy analysis of individual residential buildings, Construction Management and Economics, Vol. 19, pp. 49-61.
  • D.R.Weiner (2000) Models of Nature: Ecology, Conservation and Cultural Revolution in Soviet Russia, University of Pittsburgh Press, United States of America.
  • G.P.Hammond and C.I.Jones (2006) Inventory of (Embodied) Carbon & Energy (ICE), Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath, United Kingdom

External links[edit | edit source]

FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Authors Lonny Grafman
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 14 pages link here
Impact 6,879 page views
Created August 7, 2009 by Lonny Grafman
Modified June 9, 2023 by StandardWikitext bot
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.