Embodied Energy

“What on earth is that?” you may ask.   Quite simply it is the measurable energy that was required to create something.  To make a brick, the clay had to be dug out of the ground, transported to the brick factory, added to other ingredients (that also had to be gathered and transported), mixed together, fired in a kiln, loaded on a pallet, shipped to a project to be installed by a mason.  The final measure of embodied energy is the cost of demolishing or deconstructing an item for disposal.  All of those steps take energy and each of those steps also come at an environmental cost such as air and water pollution through creation and transportation.

Starting at the value of embodied energy, and recognizing that brick also cost something environmentally, it makes sense to keep using it as long as possible rather than pay those costs again.    The life cycle of items already in use can be extended through re-use or recycling.  While not all items can be re-used for their original purpose, they can be used in other ways.  Some older bricks can not be reused in new construction because they do not meet today’s standards, but they can be ground for landscaping, subbase, and fill for concrete.

Existing Resources are assets left for future generations to use wisely.  Since they are existing and are available, using them to their fullest extent makes good sustainable sense.  Extending their usefulness takes advantage of yesterday’s energy today and helps preserve today’s environment for tomorrow.

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