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Thursday, 3 November 2016

The Carbon Impacts of Wood Products

Published Date
The authors are, respectively, Research Forest Products Technologist, USDA Forest Serv., Forest Products Lab., Madison, Wisconsin ( [corresponding author]); Owner, WoodLife Environmental Consultants, LLC, Corvallis, Oregon (); Associate Professor and Wood Products Extension Specialist, Tennessee Forest Products Center, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville (); and Supervisory Research Forester, USDA Forest Serv., Forest Products Lab., Madison, Wisconsin (). This paper was received for publication in May 2014. Article no. 14‐00047.
Wood products have many environmental advantages over nonwood alternatives. Documenting and publicizing these merits helps the future competitiveness of wood when climate change impacts are being considered. The manufacture of wood products requires less fossil fuel than nonwood alternative building materials such as concrete, metals, or plastics. By nature, wood is composed of carbon that is captured from the atmosphere during tree growth. These two effects—substitution and sequestration—are why the carbon impact of wood products is favorable. This article shows greenhouse gas emission savings for a range of wood products by comparing (1) net wood product carbon emissions from forest cradle–to–mill output gate minus carbon storage over product use life with (2) cradle-to-gate carbon emissions for substitute nonwood products. The study assumes sustainable forest management practices will be used for the duration of the time for the forest to regrow completely from when the wood was removed for product production during harvesting. The article describes how the carbon impact factors were developed for wood products such as framing lumber, flooring, moulding, and utility poles. Estimates of carbon emissions saved per unit of wood product used are based on the following: (1) gross carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from wood product production, (2) CO2 from biofuels combusted and used for energy during manufacturing, (3) carbon stored in the final product, and (4) fossil CO2 emissions from the production of nonwood alternatives. The results show notable carbon emissions savings when wood products are used in constructing buildings in place of nonwood alternatives.
© Forest Products Society 2014

Cited by

Yusuf Celikbag and Brian K. Via. (2016) Characterization of Residue and Bio-Oil Produced by Liquefaction of Loblolly Pine at Different Reaction Times. Forest Products Journal 66:1-2, 29-36.
Online publication date: 30-Mar-2016.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF (394 KB) 
Prakash NepalKenneth E. SkogDavid B. McKeeverRichard D. BergmanKaren L. Abt and Robert C. Abt. (2016) Carbon Mitigation Impacts of Increased Softwood Lumber and Structural Panel Use for Nonresidential Construction in the United States. Forest Products Journal 66:1-2, 77-87.
Online publication date: 30-Mar-2016.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF (647 KB) 

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