Measure the Embodied Energy in Building Materials: An Eco-Sustainable Approach for Construction

  • Francesca Scalisi
  • Cesare Sposito
Part of the Innovative Renewable Energy book series (INREE)


This paper highlights how the use of materials and building components often implicates the growth of embodied energy necessary to their construction, which is not always adequately compensated by a decrease of operational energy because incorporated energy can be almost half of the total energy used in a building’s life cycle and, sometimes, it even exceeds operational energy. The paper highlights how searching only for “operational” energy efficiency does not sufficiently guarantee environmental sustainability of the intervention. The intervention is heavily influenced by embodied energy whose knowledge must drive, since the beginning, the decision-making process towards more sustainable design choices.

For this matter, the EPDs are important tools, made according to the TC350 standards that establish the steps to consider in order to measure the embodied energy during the life cycle of the material. In this paper are described in detail the steps established by the TC350 (product stage, construction stage, use stage, end-of-life stage, reuse-recovery), together with the system limits (cradle-to-gate, cradle-to-gate with options, cradle-to-grave), and the mandatory and optional steps. The paper examines 395 EPD files, observing that in practice, many steps are not considered, and are limited to product stage and construction stage.


Embodied energy Life cycle assessment EPD TC350 Sustainability Material construction Material and buildings Life cycle TC350 Product stage 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Scalisi
    • 1
  • Cesare Sposito
    • 2
  1. 1.DEMETRA Ce.Ri.Med.Euro-Mediterranean Documentation and Research CenterPalermoItaly
  2. 2.Department of ArchitectureUniversity of PalermoPalermoItaly

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