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Embodied energy

The embodied energy (carbon) of a building material can be taken as the total primary energy consumed (carbon released over its life cycle). This would normally include (at least) extraction, manufacturing and transportation. Ideally the boundaries would be set from the extraction of raw materials (including fuels) until the end of the products lifetime (including energy from manufacturing, transport, energy to manufacture capital equipment, heating and lighting of factory, maintenance, disposal etc.), known as ‘Cradle-to-Grave’. It has become common practice to specify the embodied energy as ‘Cradle-to-Gate’, which includes all energy (in primary form) until the product leaves the factory gate. The final boundary condition is ‘Cradle –to-Site’, which includes all of the energy consumed until the product has reached the point of use (ie the building site).

The figures included in the following table are a much-shortened and abbreviated adaptation of a survey published by the Sustainable Energy Research Team (SERT) of the University of Bath. The survey, ‘Inventory of Carbon & Energy (ICE)’ V2.0, was compiled and written by Prof. Geoff Hammond & Craig Jones, 2011. The full detailed survey, complete with original data, methodology and notes, is available from www.circularecology.com/ice-database.html

The figures are based on a ‘Cradle-to-Gate’ analysis of publicly available information.

Material Energy
MJ/kg
Carbon
kg CO2/kg
Density
kg /m3
Aggregate 0.083 0.0048 2240
Concrete (1:1.5:3 eg in-situ floor slabs, structure) 1.11 0.159 2400
Concrete (eg in-situ floor slabs) with 25% PFA RC40 0.97 0.132  
Concrete (eg in-situ floor slabs) with 50% GGBS RC40 0.88 0.101  
Bricks (common) 3.0 0.24 1700
Concrete block (Medium density 10 N/mm2)) 0.67 0.073 1450
Aerated block 3.50 0.30 750
Rammed earth (no cement content) 0.45 0.023 1460
Limestone block 0.85   2180
Marble 2.00 0.116 2500
Cement mortar (1:3) 1.33 0.208  
Steel (general - average recycled content) 20.10 1.37 7800
Steel (section - average recycled content) 21.50 1.42 7800
Steel (pipe - average recycled content) 19.80 1.37 7800
Stainless steel 56.70 6.15 7850
Timber (general - excludes sequestration) 10.00 0.72 480 - 720
Glue laminated timber 12.00 0.87  
Sawn hardwood 10.40 0.86 700 - 800
Cellular glass insulation 27.00    
Cellulose insulation (loose fill) 0.94 – 3.3   43
Cork insulation 26.00*   160
Glass fibre insulation (glass wool) 28.00 1.35 12
Flax insulation 39.50 1.70 30*
Rockwool (slab) 16.80 1.05 24
Expanded Polystyrene insulation 88.60 2.55 15 – 30*
Polyurethane insulation (rigid foam) 101.50 3.48 30
Woodwool board insulation 20.00 0.98  
Wool (recycled) insulation 20.90   25*
Straw bale 0.91   100 – 110*
Mineral fibre roofing tile 37 2.70 1850*
Slate (UK – imported) 0.1 – 1.0 0.006 – 0.058 1600
Clay tile 6.50 0.45 1900
Aluminium (general & incl 33% recycled) 155 8.24 2700
Bitumen (general) 51 0.38 - 0.43  
Hardboard 16.00 1.05 600 - 1000
MDF 11.00 0.72 680 – 760*
OSB 15.00 0.96 640*
Plywood 15.00 1.07 540 - 700
Plasterboard 6.75 0.38 800
Gypsum plaster 1.80 0.12 1120
Glass 15.00 0.85 2500
PVC (general) 77.20 28.1 1380
PVC pipe 67.50 24.40 1400*
Linoleum 25.00 1.21 1200
Vinyl flooring 65.64 2.92 1200
Terrazzo tiles 1.40 0.12 1750*
Ceramic tiles 12.00 0.74 2000
Carpet tiles, nylon (Polyamide), pile weight 770g/m2 279 MJ/m2 13.7 / m2 4.6 kg/m2
Wool carpet 106.00 5.53  
Wallpaper 36.40 1.93  
Wood stain / varnish 50.00 5.35  
Vitrified clay pipe (DN 500) 7.90 0.52  
Iron (general ) 25 1.91 7870
Copper (average incl. 37% recycled) 42 2.60 8600
Lead (incl 61% recycled) 25.21 1.57 11340
Ceramic sanitary ware 29.00 1.51  

 

Windows

 

 

1200 x 1200 2x glazed, air or argon filled MJ per window kg CO2
Aluminium frame 5470 279
PVC frame 2150 - 2470 110 - 126
Aluminium clad timber frame 950 - 1460 48 - 75
Timber frame 230 - 490 12 - 25
  230 - 490 12 - 25
Krypton filled add: 510 26
Xeon filled add: 4500 229

 

Paint

 

Material Energy
MJ/m2
Carbon
kg CO2/m2
Water-borne paint 59.0 2.12
Solvent-borne paint 97.0 3.13

 

Photovoltaic (PV) cells

 

Material Energy
MJ/m2
Carbon
kg CO2/m2
Monocrystalline (average) 4750 242
Polycrystalline (average) 4070 208
Thin film (average) 1305 67

 

Key: * - figures byGreenSpec obtained from publicly available information
 

Further information


• Sustainable Energy Research Team (SERT), - University of Bath - (bit.ly/biRxxM )


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