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Last edited 24 Mar 2021
Cradle-to-grave is: ‘A boundary condition associated with embodied carbon, carbon footprint and LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) studies. It includes the cradle to site results but also includes the GHG (GreenHouse Gas) emissions associated with the in use of the material or product (maintenance) and the end of life (disposal, reuse, recycling).’ Ref: http://www.circularecology.com.
It is an approach to defining the boundaries of an embodied energy assessment which involves measuring or estimating the total energy consumed in through the entire life-cycle of a product (such as a building, or its individual components). This may include gas energy, electricity, oil, and so on, but can also include features that may not be as easy to quantify, such as water use and ecological impact.
The boundaries of the assessment in terms of ‘cradle-to-grave’ extend from the extraction of the resources required to create the product (‘cradle’) through its use phase, to its ultimate disposal (‘grave’) - in other words the total amount of embodied energy that the product ‘consumes’ during its full life cycle.
Embodied energy consumption can be divided into the following categories:
- Initial embodied energy (‘cradle’): Energy needed to produce the product (including extraction, processing, manufacturing, transporting, assembly, and so on).
- Recurring embodied energy: Maintenance and refurbishment during its life-cycle.
- Demolition energy (‘grave’): Demolition and disposal of the product and the energy required.
It is important to note that a cradle-to-grave assessment of embodied energy excludes the energy required to actually operate the product, such as the energy required to heat, cool, light or power a building.
NB Embodied Carbon: Developing a Client Brief, published by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) in March 2017, suggests a cradle-to-grave boundary is: ‘an LCA (life cycle assessment) system boundary term which combines all emissions up to and including the end of life scenarios. It will include demolition emissions but the calculation will change depending on what happens at the end of life.’ Where an LCA boundary (or system boundary): ‘…determines which processes (are) to be included in the LCA study.’
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Carbon footprint.
- Cradle to completed.
- Cradle to cradle.
- Cradle to gate.
- Design life.
- Embodied energy.
- End of life potential.
- Energy certificates.
- Energy related products regulations.
- Life cycle.
- Life cycle assessment.
- Structures at the end of their design life.
- Sustainable materials.
- Utilising life cycle costing and life cycle assessment.
- Where does embodied carbon analysis stop?
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