Embodied energy and carbon in construction materials

Geoffrey P Hammond, Craig I Jones

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The development of an open-access, reliable database for embodied energy and carbon (dioxide) emissions associated with the construction industry is described. The University of Bath's inventory of carbon and energy database lists almost 200 different materials. The data were extracted from peer-reviewed literature on the basis of a defined methodology and a set of five criteria. The database was made publicly available via an online website and has attracted significant interest from industry, academia, government departments and agencies, among others. Feedback from such professional users has played an important part in the choice of ‘best values’ for ‘cradle-to-site’ embodied energy and carbon from the range found in the literature. The variation in published data stems from differences in boundary definitions (including geographic origin), age of the data sources and rigour of the original life-cycle assessments. Although principally directed towards UK construction, the material set included in the database is of quite wide application across the industrial sector. The use of the inventory is illustrated with the aid of 14 case studies of real-world new-build dwellings. It was observed that there was little difference between embodied energy and carbon for houses and apartments until external works were taken into account (energy inputs for roads, connecting pathways, etc.).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-98
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Energy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2008


  • environment
  • buildings
  • structures & design
  • energy


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