The Toronto chapter of Construction Specifications Canada gathered together at the Toronto Skating Curling and Cricket Club this past Tuesday. David treated those in attendance to a curling joke, and a talk on the embodied energy of building materials.
When it comes to reducing energy use and pollution, the conversation often turns to alternative fuels and transportation. However, buildings account for approximately 33% of the total energy use in Canada and the United States. Approximately 8% of the energy used during the entire life of a building (depending on estimates of the life cycle) is embodied in the construction materials. Making energy-efficient choices in our building materials, early on, can effect significant reductions in overall energy use. Although there is a wide gamut of opinion as to the meaning of “sustainability” in building practices, it is clear that renewable, natural resources with low embodied energy are a step in the right direction.
David presented design examples in clay-straw, rammed earth, and wood-base materials, which also have the advantage of sequestering carbon.