Abstract An attempt has been made to evaluate the total primary energy inputs to major building materials. These are then followed through to their usage in various types of housing construction to obtain an estimate of the total energy requirement for housebuilding. Typical two storey houses are found to require between 95 and 180 GJ of primary energy input (for major building components only). For large blocks of flats, constructed in reinforced concrete, the energy requirement is about 230–265 GJ per flat. Comparisons have been made between different types of construction, but the large regional variations make the comparisons very dependent on location.