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This generally refers to the quantity of energy required to manufacture and supply to the point of use, a product, material or service. It is called 'embedded energy', 'embodied energy' or 'hidden energy', or even 'virtual energy' although this implies it does not exist. A new concept of embodied water has been applied due to increasing droughts.

It is an overall accounting methodology which aims to find the sum total of the energy necessary from:


Removal and destruction or reprocessing:

Different accounting methods produce different ideas about the scale and scope of the energy, and the type of energy that is embedded.

Various approaches include calculations:

Embodied energy as a concept used in systems ecology tries to measure the 'true' ormaximal energy cost of an item, and has extended this to the concept of 'true' value.

Terms are Anthropocentric energy, Capitalcentric energy and Ecocentric energy, or Emergy.

Methodologies such as emergy have sought to link embodied energy with fundamentalconcepts in physical, electronic and chemical sciences.

Ethical or organic consumerism

The emergy approach is very relevant to today's ethical shopping, as ethically or organically produced goods still may have high embedded energy and so not be green at all. The 'No Logo' trend (Naomi Klein) and 'Buy Nothing' days and campaigns embody this idea.



Embedded Embodied Energy Building DIY Book cover