Building is recognized today as one of the main energy demanding industry. Hence, the connection between building and energy is assumed as crucial by both practitioners and users, also due to more and more strictly regulations which focuses on this aspect.
Energy is a powerful mean, able to give a measure about the environmental issues related to buildings, however it is a wide concept that has to be carefully observed in order to be fully comprehended. Operational Energy is one of the main target of buildings performance optimization, but it is just one of the two characterizations defining the total energy issue. The other important aspect that has to be taken into account is the Embodied Energy, i.e. the energy employed beyond the use of the building and recurring in all the other phase of the life cycle.
As the progressive reduction in Operating Energy is a trend in both new construction and refurbishment, the share of the Embodied Energy becomes increasingly important and it must not be neglected in an overall effective energy balance. In order to analyze the Embodied Energy within the buildings life span, together with the others connected environmental impacts, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach has to be undertaken. These kinds of analysis are able to display and quantify a number of environmental impacts related to building and its energy needs, through a series of indicators. But what do these indicators really mean? Which environmental spheres are involved and to what extent? How these threats are linked to building processes?
This paper shows the relationship between Embodied Energy and Operational Energy within buildings life cycle, underlining the importance of the “hidden” portion, and investigating which environmental implications are involved in the process, also providing an in-depth look of their meaning and about the way they affect the atmosphere and climate changes.
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