Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Architecture




Jens Pohl


Transportation Energy Analysis for Single-Family Residential Construction in California

Tyler Langley

Since the oil crisis of 1973, energy use in the United States of America has been a growing area of concern. Studies have shown that the construction industry is responsible for almost half of all annual energy consumption. With this awareness, the analysis of energy use within the related construction fields has become an emergent subject. One facet of construction energy use that has been less studied than others is that of the energy consumed in transporting building materials from manufacturing plants to construction sites. This thesis proposes a methodology for determining the energy consumed during the transportation of building materials to a construction site and applies this methodology to estimate the transportation component of the total energy consumed in the lifecycle of a residential building in California. Comparisons are then drawn among the embodied energy of the materials used in the construction of the building, the energy used to transport the materials and the products used in the on-site assembly of the building, and the energy consumed during the occupancy of the building.

The first chapter covers the intent of the thesis, as well as a categorization and explanation of the main areas of energy usage in the construction industry. This is followed by a delineation of the methodology used to research transportation energy. Chapter 2 details the development of the framework that is discussed in Chapter 1. This includes the unique problem areas of calculating transportation energy, the resulting parameters that focus the area of study, and the general assumptions derived from those parameters. Chapter 3 is a case study of a single-family two-story house in northern California. First, the considerations and reasons for the choice are defined, establishing this as a representative residence for the area. The material choices and structural system choices are also discussed. Then, the framework introduced in Chapter 2 is applied in the case study. This introduces more case-specific problems in the types of calculations used for estimating transportation energy. Chapter 4 contains a summary of the findings as well as a reflection on the process followed by suggestions for future research and application for the subject of transportation energy usage. In this summary, it is shown that the energy used in transportation of materials to the site of the case study house amounts to 10.5 million Btu, which is roughly 2.5% of the embodied energy, and 21% of the occupational energy usage per year.