All building materials have an embodied energy within them. While this sounds like mysticim it does have a scientific explanation. The embodied energy is the energy used throughout the lifecycle of the material; from the processing of raw materials, to manufacturing through to product delivery. If a building is constructed with poorly chosen materials, the embodied energy used could diminish or cancel out the benefits of years of sustainable use.
This is an important consideration for construction compaines that herald sustainable building and environmentally friendly practices as thier primary focus. As overall long-term energy ratings will have direct implications on the reputation and ability of those companies.
As a general rule, the more processed a material is, the higher its embodied energy. So choosing sustainably sourced timbers, recycled and locally sourced materials, and low volatile organic compounds improves the embodied energy that is used. A top tip to make the most of embodied energy is to keep material use to a minimum.