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How to design with embodied energy

Agency of Design’s Energy Trump cards

How can we become more aware of embodied energy? The Agency of Design, based in London, answers the question by profiling the embodied energy in various materials. They’ve made a card deck —energy trump cards — covering 45 materials, and each material card shows the key environmental properties; Embodied Energy, Embodied Carbon, Embodied Water, Recycled Content, Extraction Intensity and Years of Reserves. It’s a nice addition to the series of card decks that serve as design aides around sustainability.


“Embodied energy data tells you how many megajoules of energy
it took to produce 1kg of a material (MJ/kg)
” -Designing with Energy

Their PDF, Designing with Energy, shows their process for using embodied energy as the basis for designing a replacement for the Anglepoise lamp (approximately 140 megjoules). They produced 1 megajoule, 10 megajoule and 20 megajoule versions of a lamp with similar functionality.

The 1 megajoule lamp by Agency of Design

Agency of Design is, reasonably, selling the cards, and my only complaint is that they haven’t made them available to buy as a digital file. Oh, and there’s a webapp to use with the cards that “allows you to explore, in 3D, the different amounts of material you can get for 1 megajoule of energy.”

Got any good embodied energy tips? Share them in the comments.

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One Response to How to design with embodied energy

  1. roger bateman says:

    just ordered a set of cards, lets see how they fair on a student project next semester. A link to a free digital set would be nice to have once a hard copy has been purchased.

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