I was discussing materials selection with a client when they stopped me mid-sentence and asked, "wait, what is embodied energy?" I figure it's at least worth a quick mention in the blog, as it's a tremendously powerful tool to view materials selection and product consumption overall.
"Embodied Energy" is how much energy it takes to manufacture a product. The units are usually MJ/kg (megajoules of energy per kilogram of product) and kgCO2/kg (kilograms of CO2 emitted per kilogram of product).
The chart above utilizes illustrates how material selection can impact our carbon output as consumers. Here's an example:
For every ton of portland cement poured for a foundation a ton of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. For an average sized house in California that can be 300,000 lbs of carbon dioxide! Environmentally and financially speaking, it is much better to keep your foundation in good shape rather than replace it. Consider adding a french drain and waterproofing to an existing foundation to extend it's life dramatically.