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The materials used in the construction industry and the processes involved in making them are a major contributor to CO2 in the atmosphere. Certain materials such as concrete and steel intensify the effect, as they use huge amounts of energy in their production, and require major transportation to get them to site. These costs are off the energy budget sheet in normal builds.

The use of alternative materials such as sustainable timber, recycled materials, materials from renewable sources and new application of materials (composites) can reduce the amount of CO2 and energy expended during a construction project, with some producing further savings during the life span of the building due to greater efficiency.

Materials production requires around 75% of the energy used in construction. In a developing country such as India, it is estimated that the brick industry produces 22% of the CO2 emissions by the construction sector and requires around 27% of the energy used in building materials production.