Challenges for capturing and assessing initial embodied energy: a contractor’s perspective

Philip J. Davies, Stephen Emmitt, Steven K. Firth

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Initial embodied energy includes energy use during material, transportation, and construction life cycle phases up to project practical completion. Contractors have an important role to play in reducing initial embodied energy levels due to their significant involvement in preconstruction and onsite construction activities. Following an extensive literature review a comprehensive framework was designed to highlight the significance of initial embodied energy levels relative to specific construction packages, activities and subcontractors. This framework was then applied to a new UK industrial warehouse project using a case study approach. Capturing information from a live project during the entire construction phase helped highlight the practical challenges inherent when capturing and assessing initial embodied energy levels. A series of contractor current practices was reviewed to determine their compliance with the framework requirements. The findings revealed that the ground and upper floor, external slab and frame were the most significant construction packages in terms of embodied impacts. Many challenges embedded within the contractor’s current practices in terms of data detail, legibility, and terminology were also revealed. The framework provides a practical approach for initial embodied energy assessment which can readily be adopted by contractors to help highlight opportunities to increase efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-308
Number of pages19
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number3
Early online date5 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


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