Research: Embodied Energy

Almost every product has what is called “embodied energy”, or “embedded energy”. This is the energy expended in creating the product, whether it be the carbon output, the heat generated, etc. Embodied energy is an important concept regarding sustainability because, ideally, companies that create products should also seek to offset the hazardous externalities that were created when the product was made. By taking into account the embodied energy, companies can better offset the externalities.

This blog post from The Year of Mud goes into a few details concerning what the embodied energy from a few materials turn out to be:,and%20copper%20and%20glass%20are%20also%20quite%20high.

Evidently from information provided in the blog above, materials like paint, insulation and plastic have higher embodied energies than most of the other materials with MJ/kg of 59, 28 and 84. Aluminum and plastic have the highest embodied CO2 levels.

Offset projects for outputs can involve developed countries undertaking restoration agendas in developing countries, or with offset credits being used (similar to a cap and trade system). Linked here is an emission reduction credit program taking place in Texas- a great example of emission offset undertakings:

In a perfect world, every larger company would undertake emission and embodied energy offset projects so as to make up for negative externalities originating from the lifecycle of their products.