Embodied energy

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Method for monitoring

To monitor embodied energy, two elements are necessary:

  • The energy content of specific building materials, including transportation
  • The quantity of these materials used in different building segments.

Some methods also include the energy needed for the disposal and reuse of materials.

Steps to come to monitoring of embodied energy

The following steps should be taken in order to gather reliable monitoring data for embodied energy:

  1. Cooperation and standardisation across Member States to develop one standard approach and common definitions for monitoring embodied energy
  2. Setting up a data collection strategy to collect necessary input data
  3. Setting up a modelling tool to combine different inputs
  4. Develop datasets and indicators on Member State level. 


Embodied energy is the total energy required for the extraction, processing, manufacturing, and delivery of buildings. Unlike the life cycle assessment, which evaluates all of the impacts over the whole life of a material or element, embodied energy only considers the front-end aspect of the impact of a building material. It does not include the operation or disposal of materials.

The energy content of specific building materials 2

The energy content of a material depends, among other things, on the producer. To monitor on Member State level it is recommended to look at the energy intensity on the national level. One approach would be to compare the energy consumption by branch from national statistics with production figures. Figure 2 shows an example based on Odyssee data. The figure shows the energy consumption per ton of material for cement, steel and glass. 

The quantity of these materials used in different segments of buildings

The already mentioned input and output statistics can be a source for quantifying the inland consumption of materials in a country. But these statistics are to general to link with specific building categories. Steel, for example, is used for many other purposes than the construction of buildings. Additional data should be obtained to link embodied energy to buildings.