Embodied energy is the amount of energy required to produce a particular item or material and make it available for use. Highly processed materials such as stainless steel, glass, and concrete take a lot of energy to produce when all manufacturing processes, mining and transportation are considered. Materials such as timber and its products, rammed earth, cob, adobe, mud brick, clay render, strawbale, or generally speaking: anything that comes directly from plants or the earth have very low levels of embodied energy.


is high to start with, but combined with an aluminium frame it is higher

reinforced concrete

massive amounts of concrete are required for adequate construction.

steel sheet roofing

metals have the highest embodied energy of all building materials

sandblasted concrete

requires further treatment after the concrete has cured

We have been very fortunate that since the discovery of coal and the industrial revolution we’ve had very high returns on the energy we’ve invested, and this has enabled us to develop some extraordinary technologies, but it has also led us to rely heavily upon highly processed materials and products. As our supplies of the energy and materials that we need for these products are not endless, they will become harder and harder to obtain, and the products will become even more expensive until it becomes no longer economical to use or make them.


plantation timber

reduces reliance on logging old forests – has lower EE if air dried


lime render

traditional alternative to cement – allows breathable walls.

radially sawn timber

reduces wastage via the radial sawing method

natural stone

blocks cut straight from the earth to the site


At Urban Farm and House we place an emphasis on providing cost-effective and ethical material recommendations to our clients, and hope that you will take on some of the responsibility of building a sustainable future by selecting renewable materials, such as timber or strawbale whenever you can.