"We are increasingly aware of the need to protect Earth's environment, and building with wood offers a host of benefits. Wood is renewable. Wood sequesters carbon, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere. Wood can be efficiently recycled." DR. DONALD BENDER -DIRECTOR OF COMPOSITE MATERIALS & ENGINEERING CENTER, WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY
Wood is the ONLY major construction material that is renewable.

Wood Stores Carbon: Using Wood Reduces Fossil Fuel Emissions

20-30% of global CO2 emissions
could be avoided

Trees naturally create wood using solar energy, and relatively little additional energy is needed to manufacture wood products.  A Yale University-led study reveals that buildings and bridges constructed with wood, versus steel and concrete, would substantially reduce global carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel consumption.  building

The manufacture of steel, concrete, and brick accounts for about 16 percent of global fossil fuel energy consumption. When the transportation and assembly in buildings of these materials are factored in, the share of fossil fuel energy used climbs to 20% to 30%.

Wood products naturally store carbon (50% of the dry weight of wood is carbon, unreleased into the atmosphere). Studies show that 14% to 31% of global CO2 emissions could be avoided by substituting wood for steel and concrete bridges and buildings.

Wood products require far less energy to manufacture than concrete and steel. The sustainable harvesting and manufacturing of wood products not only requires less fossil fuel than production of other building materials, as the forest regrows, carbon is sequestered more rapidly when the forest is young.

Life Cycle Analysis: How Science Measures Green

global climate change

Using natural wood products instead of fossil fuel-intensive building products sharply reduces carbon emissions. Sustainable forestry can play a major role in carbon sequestration and help to mitigate global climate change.

The Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (CORRIM) is a study group made up of fifteen research institutions. Over the last decade, CORRIM has measured the carbon input and output of forests and other building materials at every stage of their life cycle through a process called Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and determined that forests are an integral part of the green economy. The full report containing a complete summary of CORRIM’s recommendations is available here.

Through Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), scientists analyze the total environmental impact of products based on all steps, beginning with gathering raw materials to create products, and ending when all materials are discarded and returned to the earth. All raw material inputs and product outputs are measured at every stage in the product life cycle, with the perspective that all stages are interdependent. Careful analysis then considers the environmental impacts of each of these inputs and outputs to identify the net environmental impact of a particular material or product.

“Growing trees take carbon out of the atmosphere, storing it first in the forest, which when harvested moves this carbon to storage in products while at the same time displacing fossil fuel intensive products like steel and concrete.”Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials

Substitute Wood for Energy-Intensive Building Products

Wood has the
lowest carbon impact
among building materials

Wood used in long-lived products provides the greatest reduction in fossil fuel use and emissions. On average, when we substitute wood for energy-intensive building products, we offset two tons of carbon emissions for every dry metric ton of wood used. This occurs because we are eliminating fossil fuel emissions that would have been released into the air had we used more energy-intensive materials, thus adding to the net benefit of wood. Coupling this with the fact that the net carbon stored in wood products is far greater than alternative materials, it becomes clear wood has the lowest carbon impact among building materials. Builders, therefore, have a great opportunity to mitigate carbon emissions by choosing wood products over steel, concrete and plastics.

WFPA 9991 Carbon Charts_paths

Additional findings from CORRIM underscore the importance of sustainable forest management in mitigating carbon emissions. As trees reach maturity and growth slows, the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere diminishes. However, the rate of removal of atmospheric carbon can be sustained by harvesting trees before their growth slows and thereby moving the carbon into wood products for permanent storage. Shorter harvest intervals can increase the total amount of carbon sequestered by increasing the carbon stored in wood product pools and displacing carbon emissions by substituting wood products for other building materials sooner.

“We build with wood because it's environmentally responsible. It takes much less energy to produce wood than it does to create other products such as steel and concrete. The manufacture and transport of locally sourced wood products leads to much lower greenhouse gas emissions than more energy-intensive building products, and thus helps us address climate change.”Commissioner of Public Lands Peter GoldmarkCommissioner of Public Lands Peter GoldmarkWood Solutions Fair March 15, 2012


Healthy, growing trees
remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere

Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. Sustainably managed forests play a vital role in reducing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide. That’s why it is so important to understand the role of forests in the carbon cycle and mitigation of climate change.

Healthy, growing trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, store carbon in tree biomass and release oxygen back into the air through the photosynthesis process. The natural removal of carbon from the atmosphere is a part of the carbon cycle known as carbon sequestration. Trees accumulate and sequester carbon as they grow and when harvested, continue to store carbon in lumber, wood and paper products.

Because wood products are easily recycled, carbon storage is extended beyond the life of the original product. In fact, about one-half of the weight of dry wood is stored carbon. Wood is also energy efficient for building because it requires only small amounts of energy to harvest and process. Using wood as a substitute for more energy-intensive building materials provides the greatest reduction in fossil fuel use and emissions.