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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Embodied energy and operational energy

Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery. Embodied energy does not include the operation and disposal of the building material, which would be considered in a life cycle approach. Embodied energy is the ‘upstream’ or ‘front-end’ component of the life cycle impact of a home.
It was thought until recently that the embodied energy content of a building was small compared to the energy used in operating the building over its life. Therefore, most effort was put into reducing operating energy by improving the energy efficiency of the building envelope. Research has shown that this is not always the case. Embodied energy can be the equivalent of many years of operational energy. Operational energy consumption depends on the occupants. Embodied energy is not occupant dependent — the energy is built into the materials. Embodied energy content is incurred once (apart from maintenance and renovation) whereas operational energy accumulates over time and can be influenced throughout the life of the building.