The Recyclability Of Embodied Energy

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In recent development, sustainability has become an integral concern in the performance of architectural principles and technology, in which conscious approaches to energy and ecological conservation involves strategies during the design, construction, and operation of buildings. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Building Sector is the largest contributor to most of the energy consumed: in the United States by itself, buildings consume 47.6% of all energy produced and is responsible for 44.6% of CO2 emissions in 2010 (“Problem…” 1). In terms of sustainability, initial decisions in the design process can significantly help deliver results. Evaluations and explorations through the impact of materials, such as concrete, wood, bricks, masonry, and steel, can help improve reductions in energy through its applicability to a building. While wood and steel are simply identified for their strength, durability, and functionality in structures, accentuating these materials’ embodied energies and recyclability offer a more comprehensive understanding of their overall impact in sustainability — and ultimately reveal how both have advantages and disadvantages depending on the context.
For the past several decades, embodied energy has been studied to interpret the relationships among building materials, construction processes, and their environmental impact. Embodied energy can be defined as the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building — from processing to manufacturing — and does not include the operations and disposals of the building material (Cabeza 230). In relation to issues within the environment, concerns are principally concentrated in energy consumption and carbo...

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