Anderson, Jane; Beavan, Michael; Galeazzi, Francesca; Keeping, Miles; Shiers, David and Steele, Kristian (2017). Materials. In: Keeping, Miles and Shiers, David eds. Sustainable Built Environments: Principles and Practice. Oxford: Wiley, pp. 145–158.



In the United Kingdom, the construction materials sector consumes around 400 million tonnes of raw materials every year, meaning it is the country's largest user of natural resources. Construction materials consume natural resources including minerals, fossil fuels for energy production, timber, oil‐based products and water have major transport impacts and add to the waste burden as they are replaced and their production processes may release chemicals into the atmosphere including nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide. To assess the environmental impact of a construction material, the embodied CO2 and resources used and the waste and emissions created are measured at each stage of the product's manufacture, use and disposal. This 'cradle‐to‐grave' analysis is known as life cycle assessment (LCA) and requires the collection and interpretation of often complex and extensive quantitative data collected by environmental consultancies, trade associations, manufacturers and national governments.

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