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What is Embodied Energy?

 , updated on July 25, 2016
Embodied energy is the total amount of energy that goes into a product or service throughout its lifecycle. It is an environment accounting method that is commonly used to compare transportation systems, buildings and materials.
In some cases, embodied energy numbers surprise people because some materials and techniques that are commonly believed to be environmentally friendly may have a large energy footprint. Energy footprint is one of many sustainable design considerations.

Calculation Notes

The key step in calculating embodied energy is to decide what to include in the lifecycle of a building, product or material. It is common to include extraction, transport, manufacture, assembly, installation, operational costs, maintenance and recycling or reuse. Operational costs require baseline assumptions such as the kilometers a vehicle travels or lifespan of a building. For vehicles, embodied energy is typically calculated per kilometer.
Overview: Embodied Energy
TypeSustainable Design
DefinitionThe total energy that goes into a building, vehicle, material, product or service over its lifecycle.
Related ConceptsSustainable Design
Sustainable Lighting
Green Architecture
Environmental Issues


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