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Timber Engineering Europe

Material Embodied Energy Comparisons

Material Embodied Energy   
MJ/m3
Embodied Carbon
KgCO2/m3
Bricks (common) 5100 374
Concrete block 150mm (M/W)    1349 152
Aerated block 2625 225
Rammed earth 657 34
Embodied Energy and Carbon comparisons in different types of building materials
Above: Masonry walls - expressed in volume terms

Material Embodied Energy   
MJ/m3
Embodied Carbon
KgCO2/m3
Timber (general) 8.5 0.46
Glulaminated timber    12.00 0.65
Sawn hardwood 7.40 0.47
MDF 11.00 0.59
OSB 9.5 0.51
Plywood 15.00 0.81
Above: Timber products - expressed in mass terms

Material Embodied Energy   
MJ/m3
Embodied Carbon
KgCO2/m3
Steel (typical virgin/recycled)    1900320 13806
Concrete General 2664 382
Above: Structural elements - expressed in volume terms

Type of Construction Energy per unit of assembly    
MJ/m2
Energy used to complete construction
MJ
Energy used in 40 year maintenance
MJ
Timber Frame Timber Clad - Painted)   188 31020 24750
Timber Frame/Brick 561 92565 0
Double Brick no paint 860 141900 0
Autoclaved Aerated Cement render painted 464 76560 24750
Steel Frame Fibre Cement Painted 460 75900 24750
Above: Energy embodied in the building and maintenance of different types of building combinations.
Carbon is both released and stored during the construction process and the chart below shows the extent to which this happens

Material Carbon Released  
Kg/t
Carbon Released  
Kg/m3
Carbon Stored  
Kg/m3
Sawn Timber   30 15 250
Steel 700 5320 0
Concrete 50 120 0
Aluminium 8700 22.000 0

Construction While the amount of embodied energy in a building will vary depending on its design and location the following details can be used as a guideline:

The most common expressions used to assess the values of construction materials are:

Cradle to Gate
Cradle-to-gate is an assessment of a partial product life cycle from resource extraction such as mining, quarrying or forest extraction (cradle) to the factory gate (gate) i.e., before it is transported to the consumer. In the case of embodied energy, every aspect of carbon release is counted and added to the final count. The carbon emissions of machinery used to extract the raw materials, transport to the factory and the operations employed to convert the products into building materials are all considered and the total gives us a "cradle to gate" values of a product.

Cradle to Grave
Cradle-to-grave is an assessment of a total product life cycle from resource extraction such as mining, quarrying or forest extraction (cradle) to the demolition of a building (grave) and the subsequent cost in terms of carbon emission used to dispose of, or recycle the products.



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