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Richard Bergman, PhD

Richard Bergman, PhD
Supervisory Research Forest Products Technologist
Statistics, Life Cycle Analysis, and Economics Research
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
United States
Current Research

Conduct system and scale-up analyses using robust artificial intelligence (AI)-based data analytics

Assessing plant biomass properties for their handling and conversion performances using machine learning

Life-cycle and techno-economic assessment of bio-based products

Life-cycle assessment of utilization of freshly-cut urban wood

Developing new and updating wood product life-cycle assessment data for creating business-to-business Environmental Product Declarations

Carbon impacts of wood products

Consequential life-cycle analysis of products produced from biomass thermo-chemical conversion and densification

The effect of timing of GHG issions on climate change impacts for harvesting, production, use and disposal of building products

Dynamic carbon inventory of the life cycle of wood products in conjunction with working forests

Life-cycle primary energy and carbon footprint of recovering wood from buildings for reuse

Past Research

Heat treatment (sterilization) of wood products

Wood energy with a focus on gasification

Drying of wood products

Research Interest

Life-cycle analysis of wood building materials and bioenergy resources to quantify critical emissions and thus environmental impacts

Carbon footprint of wood products including the impact of dynamic GHG fluxes

Comparison of critical environmental impacts for wood products and their alternatives

Why This Research Is Important

Life-cycle inventories (LCIs) and life-cycle assessments (LCAs) of wood products are critically needed 1) to support LCA calculations and material selection decisions under Green Building codes and standards and 2) to provide data needed for environmental products declarations for wood products and thereby maintain their competitiveness.

Methods development that include the effect of timing of greenhouse gas emissions is critical to accurately estimate the climate change impacts of wood products use that have varying emissions over time.

LCI and LCA information can aid wood product manufcaturers and users by identifying and modifying unit processes that the highest environmental impacts and thereby reduce emissions.

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ph.D., Primary: Wood Science Secondary: Life-cycle analysis, 2012
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI, M.S., Primary: Wood Science Secondary: Life-cycle analysis, 2007
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI, B.S., Chemical Engineer, 1996
  • Northcentral Technical College, WI, A.S., Electromechanical Technology, 1991
Professional Experience
  • Climate Change Professional,  Association of Climate Change Officers,  2018 - Current
    The Certified Climate Change Professional® (CC-P®) credential is a valuable asset that will distinguish you in the job marketplace and enhance your credibility as a leader in climate preparedness and action initiatives.
  • Research Forest Products Technologist,  USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Madiosn, Wisconsin,  1999 - Current
    Focused on evaluating the forest sector role in sustainable management of natural systems. This includes evaluating indicators of sustainability of forest management, estimating and analyzing the role of forests and wood products in mitigating climate change by storing carbon and offsetting missions, evaluating opportunities to use forest biomass in the West to mitigate fire risk, and conducting life cycle analysis of the environmental effects of wood and bioenergy products. The life-cycle analysis area is new and will have its own problem statement when the research work unit (RWU) description is approved. This reflects an increasing emphasis in the RWU of understanding the environmental impacts, particularly carbon emissions and offsets, of wood and paper product products production and use.
Professional Organizations
  • Member,  American Center on Life-Cycle Assessment,  2008 - Current
    I present life-cycle research at ahe annual conferences and revieweproceedings papers .
  • Investment Management Committee,  Forest Products Society (FPS),  2004 - Current
    I was co-chair of two North American Wood Windows and Doors Symposium to be held April 18-19, 2013 in Minneapolis, MN and one in September 2015 in Madison, WI. In addition, I present research at annual conferences, review manuscripts for the Forest Products Journal (FPJ) related to life-cycle analysis and submit manuscripts from my research to the FPJ for peer-review.
  • Member,  Society of Wood Science and Technology (SWST),  2004 - Current
    I present research at SWST annual conferences, review manuscripts for the Wood and Fiber Science (W&FS) journal related to life-cycle analysis and submit manuscripts from my work to W&FS journal for peer-review.
  • Member,  ASTM E60 Sustainability Committee,  2010 - 2018
    I am a ASTM E60 committee member working on creating standards from the following two work items: 1) Work Item# 23356: Standard Practice for Development of Product Category Rules for Use in Development of Environmental Declarations for Building Products and Systems (FPL Technical Lead) and 2) Work Item #28938: Standard Practice for Life Cycle Assessment of Whole Buildings
  • Vice-President Of Solid And Engineered Wood Products,  Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (CORRIM),  2009 - 2018
    As part of CORRIM, I am involved with the following: 1) developing life-cycle research proposals in conjunction with other CORRIM members, 2) working on life-cycle research projects with other CORRIM members, and 3) providing guidance on direction of CORRIM's objectives
Awards & Recognition
  • Rural Community Assistance Award, 2005
    In the Spirit of Working Together for Rural America
  • First National Fire Plan Award, 2004
    Innovation in Utilization of Biomass
  • USDA Secretary’s Group Award for Enhancing the Capacity of All Rural Residents, Communities, and Bus, 2003
    For exceptional dedication and commitment in providing technical and marketing assistance to rural forest-dependent communities and business
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Evaluating near-woods processing of post-harvest forest residues for energy production

Year: 2017
Forest Service researchers are evaluating the environmental viability of converting post-harvest forest residues into high-quality bioenergy products, such as briquette and torrefied briquette, as viable fossil fuel replacements using near-woods processing. Use of renewable biofuel products can help...

Centennial Edition, Wood Handbook—Wood as an Engineering Material

Year: 2010
The Wood Handbook—Wood as an Engineering Material serves as a primary reference document for a wide variety of users-from the general public through architects and design engineers who use wood in highly engineered structures.

Evaluating the environmental impact of building material recovery and reuse

Year: 2011
Within the green building and sustainable construction fields, there is a growing movement to recover and reuse building materials in lieu of demolition and landfill disposal. Reuse has several benefits including reducing carbon footprint, conserving resources, extending landfill life, and minimizin...

Labeling Wood Products Based on Environmental Impacts - Helping consumers make sustainable choices

Year: 2011
Environmental product declaration (EPD) is a summary of the environmental impacts associated with producing and using a product or service. An EPD is based on a life cycle assessment (LCA) and can be used to compare products on an equal basis. EPDs are meant to communicate standardized LCA informati...

Redwood Decking is a Good Choice for the Environment

Year: 2013
Building products produce emissions throughout their lifespan, from harvest and manufacturing to use and final disposal. Using building products with low emissions, including greenhouse gases, will mitigate climate change. From cradle-to-grave, redwood decking produces low emissions compared to comp...

Novel Technology Uses Waste Wood to Make Bioenergy while Sequestering Carbon

Year: 2014
Wood companies need high-value uses for wood residues. A new technology developed by Forest Service researchers and their partners converts wood residues into high-value products such as biochar while producing bioenergy. The researchers are measuring the environmental impacts of this new wood techn...

New Model for Understanding the Fiber Saturation Point of Wood

Year: 2016
The fiber saturation point is a key measure of how much water can be held within wood before free water forms in empty spaces within wood structure. Forest Service researchers developed a new model to understand how bound and free water are partitioned within wood. This model can be used to develop ...

Environmental Evaluation of Converting Post-harvest Forest Residues to Bioenergy Products

Year: 2016
Forest residues are a low-value byproduct of timber harvest operations that are typically burned or left to rot. Using forest residues as a bioenergy source replacing fossil fuels may decrease fossil-fuel-based greenhouse gass emissions. Accordingly, Forest Service researchers are assessing the envi...

Environmental building declaration prepared using life cycle assessment

Year: 2017
An environmental building declaration for the Design Building on the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts was prepared from a whole building life cycle assessment on this first wood-concrete composite building using the emerging cross laminated timber material and technology in United S...

New bio-based technology uses waste wood to produce high-value activated carbon

Year: 2017
Forest Service scientists investigated making activated carbon products from renewable woody biomass material such as forest or mill residues for technology potential and environmental benefit with a comparison to commercial coal activated carbon. The results demonstrated that expanding biofuels and...

Techno-economic and Environmental Assessments of Storing Woodchips and Pellets for Bioenergy Applications

Year: 2018
Storage is the critical operation within the biomass supply chain to reduce feedstock supply risks and to manage smooth year-around operations of a biorefinery or a bioenergy plant. Moreover, storage incurs the cost and produces potent greenhouse gases that can have negative impacts on the economic ...

Economic Analysis of Making Solid Biofuels and Biochar from Forest Residues Using Portable Production Systems in the U.S.

Year: 2018
Higher logistic cost is one of the major bottlenecks to produce renewable power, fuel, or bioproducts from forest residues in large-scale production facilities. Smaller scale and portable production facilities that consume forest residues near to the sources reduce logistics cost.

Life Cycle Assessment of Activated Carbon from Woody Biomass

Year: 2019
Expanding biofuels and bioproducts production using forest biomass as feedstock contributes to not only alternatives to U.S. fossil fuels, but also facilitates forest restoration treatments by providing new markets for management of woody biomass residues. This study quantified and compared the envi...

Life-Cycle Assessment of Redwood Lumber Products in the United States

Year: 2020
This report provides a cradle-to-gate life-cycle assessment (LCA), and update to the environmental impacts associated with redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) lumber production in the United States.