www.thegreenestbuilding.org

The Greenest Building is the One Already Built

"Preservation saves energy by taking advantage of the nonrecoverable energy embodied in an existing building and extending the use of it" - ASSESSING the ENERGY CONSERVATION BENEFITS of HISTORIC PRESERVATION: Methods and Examples, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Welcome to the May T. Watts Appreciation Society sponsored Embodied Energy Calculator.
As far as anyone can tell, Carl Elefante deserves the credit for introducing the phrase "The Greenest Building is the One Already Built." And we'd like to say: Thanks, Carl!

There may still be some bugs below, and we hope to keep adding functionality. If you come across something, or just want to help, drop us a line at thegreenestbuilding AT gmail DOT com. For now, go forward and calculate...
EMBODIED ENERGY CALCULATOR
To use this calculator, begin by choosing your property type from the box on the left. In the box labeled gross floor area enter your building's total square footage. Click calculate to get the amount of energy "embodied" (that's the total energy spent in the production of a building, from the manufacture of materials to their delivery to construction) in your building!

  X sq. ft. =   MBTU
Embodied Energy Investment* 
 
DEMOLITION ENERGY CALCULATOR
When we're looking at teardowns, embodied energy is only part of the equation. To use this calculator, begin by choosing your property type from the box on the left. In the box labeled gross floor area enter your building's total square footage. Click calculate to get the amount of energy "needed to raze, load, and haul away construction materials."*

  X sq. ft. =   BTU
Demolition Energy* 
 
NEXT STEPS
With a good online energy converter, you can do loads with embodied energy (bear in mind, for many calculations you will need BTUs, so multiply your MBTU number by 1000 to get BTUs). Here is one popular application:

Convert Embodied Energy to Gasoline. In practical terms, MBTUs is a fairly abstract number. To help understand the value of this investment, convert the energy stored in the walls of an existing structure into something relatable: gallons of gas.
note: this calculator uses MBTUs. If you are entering BTUs (e.g., demolition energy above) first divide your number by 1000.

Enter the total embodied energy you wish to calculate and click.

  MBTU Embodied Energy  ÷  115,000 BTU/gal. of gas =    gallons 
 
To see how carried away you can get with this (trips around the world, pounds of carbon dioxide, etc.)...
read more on our blog: greenestbuildingistheonealreadybuilt.blogspot.com

Teardown Calculator. Using the first two energy calculators, you can get a number that represents the approximate total amount of energy lost in the teardown, spent in building demolition, and then expended in new construction.

Using the embodied energy calculator above, enter the total embodied energy of the teardown building. Next, use the demolition calculator to get the energy used in the demolition of the teardown building. Finally, return to the embodied energy calculator and enter the square footage of the new building to calculate the energy invested through new construction. Enter each of those numbers in the corresponding box below and click Calculate.

  MBTU
+   BTU
+   MBTU
=   MBTU energy lost and spent  
 
Say No! to Rubberstamp Communities!

Illustration from Ravinia: Her Charms & Destiny

You can copy the number of total MBTUs above into the gallons converter to calculate gallons of gas represented by the teardown.
ABOUT THIS PAGE
The MTWAS embodied energy calculator is based on the "Concept Model" presented in the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation report, ASSESSING the ENERGY CONSERVATION BENEFITS of HISTORIC PRESERVATION: Methods and Examples. This report presents three techniques to calculate embodied energy. While the concept model used here is the least refined, it is also the most user-friendly, and we believe it represents a huge step in the right direction. Each model measures the energy embodied in the existing building's materials. The concept model approach is simple, with only a single calculation required: invested energy per sq. ft. of the building type, multiplied by the gross floor area of the historic building. The values in MBTU/sq. ft. for each building type are presented to the right, as published in the ACHP report.
Click here to view the Survey Model.

If you'd like to learn more, click here to download ASSESSING the ENERGY CONSERVATION BENEFITS of HISTORIC PRESERVATION: Methods and Examples. This report, published in 1979, forwarded the concept of embodied energy. The calculations published are based on new buildings constructed in 1967. These figures are being used here because they are the only identified database of embodied energy information. As we're told, there is no contemporary equivalent, but people are working on it (why not you?!). What we gain from using the '79 report is a raw figure that helps us find what's been called the "avoided embodied energy" that would be needed to construct a new building (and if we're talking preservation, we're largely talking about buildings before 1967).
Embodied Energy of Materials and Construction Per Square Foot of Construction
MBTU/sq.ft.
Residential – Single Family700
Residential – 2-4 Family630
Residential – Garden Apartment650
Residential – High Rise740
Hotel/Motel1130
Dormitories1430
Industrial Buildings970
Office Buildings1640
Warehouses560
Garages/Service Stations770
Stores/Restaurants940
Religious Buildings1260
Educational1390
Hospital Buildings1720
Other Nonfarm Buildings1450
a. Amusement, Social & Rec.1380
b. Misc Nonresidential Bldg.1100
c. Laboratories2070
d. Libraries, Museums, etc.1740


* ASSESSING the ENERGY CONSERVATION BENEFITS of HISTORIC PRESERVATION: Methods and Examples, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. We got our copy of this report by joining the National Trust Forum.

The National Trust's Sustainability Initiative is the best source on the web for green preservation. We recommend their Green Home Tips. Learn more with sustainability news, research and case studies. And read the article that started it all, Carl Elefante's "The Greenest Building Is...One that is Already Built," from the Summer 2007 Forum Journal.

More links? Visit our blog: The Greenest Building is the One Already Built

Read more about embodied energy in Australia's "Your Home Technical Manual"

MTWAS est. 2007

Embodied Energy:
concept model
Embodied Energy
  Calculator

Demolition Energy
  Calculator

Gasoline
  Converter

Teardown
  Calculator

survey model
ACHP report

Demolition Debris

Total Teardowns

May T. Watts

blog

thegreenestbuilding
AT gmail DOT com