Deconstruction and Embodied Energy

You can calculate the embodied energy of your home. Check out the embodied energy calculator at this cool web site DeconstructionInstiture.com

This is why Eco Brooklyn is so passionate about salvaging materials for our Brooklyn and NY brownstone renovations. It is hugely successful at reducing our consumption of global energy.

From their site:

Every building represents a significant investment in energy. Energy was consumed at each stage of its creation; during the original extraction of raw materials, the manufacturing of the raw materials into useable building materials, transportation of the building materials to the site, and by the equipment and tools used to assemble the materials into the final form of the building.

The term “embodied energy” is used to refer to this total expenditure of energy involved in the creation of the building and its constituent materials.

The average home contains 892 million Btu’s of embodied energy, an amount of energy equal to 7,826 gallons of gasoline, or enough to drive an SUV 5 1/2 times around the earth (though we don’t recommend doing this.)

The reuse of building materials results in the maximum possible preservation of embodied energy. With only a minimal expenditure of energy to clean and transport the materials to a new building site, their lifespan (and therefore the original investment of energy to create the materials) is extended.

The 6,000 BF of lumber that can be recovered and reused from an average single family home contains 23 million Btu’s of embodied energy that can be preserved through deconstruction (equivalent to 205 gallons of gasoline).

Recycling building materials is one way to preserve some of the embodied energy in a building. For many building materials, recycling used into new consumes less energy than extracting virgin raw materials from the earth. Manufacturing new building components using recycled inputs instead of virgin can reduce energy expenditures by about 50% for steel and over 90% for plastics. Deconstruction allows for a careful separation of building materials, maximizing the potential for recovery and recycling.

An average home contains about 4,700 pounds of steel and 770 pounds of recyclable plastics. If carefully deconstructed, these materials could be recycled into new products with a net savings (or preservation of embodied energy) of 59 million Btu’s (513 gallons of gas equivalent).

About the author: Gennaro Brooks-Church

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