Delivering improved initial embodied energy efficiency during construction

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

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Energy use during the material, transportation and construction phases up to project practical completion is known as initial embodied energy. Contractors have the opportunity to capture initial embodied energy data and influence performance due to their significant involvement in project procurement and delivery. In this case study practical challenges and opportunities were addressed for delivering improved initial embodied energy efficiency during construction. A revised framework was applied to a live industrial warehouse project to assess the initial embodied energy performance of assorted construction activities, packages and sub-contractors. The practices employed by the contractor on-site were explored and then improved. Results show that material phase impacts represented 95.1% of the total initial embodied energy consumption whereby construction packages predominately containing steel and concrete-based materials (i.e. ground and upper floor, external slab and frame) were most significant. The overall initial embodied impact was deemed greater than the operational impact at the end of the buildings 25-year lifespan. Findings suggest that future project benchmarks and targets should be normalised per site area, as these impacts were found to be significant in this particular case.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-279
Number of pages13
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Early online date18 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


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