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    Manufacturing building products such as wood panels impacts the environment, including contributing to climate change. This study is a compilation of four studies quantifying these impacts using the life cycle assessment (LCA) method on five wood-based panel products made in North America during 2012. LCA is an internationally accepted and standardized method for evaluating the environmentalimpacts of products. With LCA, holistic environmental impacts were calculated based on survey data from mills on emissions to air and water, solid waste, energy consumption, and resource use. This study incorporated cradleto-gate production of nonwood materials including additives and energy products, such as natural gas and coal, consumed at the production facilities. In addition, primary transport of wood materials to the production facilities was included. These primary data were entered in LCA modeling software on a production unit of 1 m3 of the panel to estimate manufacturing gateto-gate life cycle inventory (LCI) flows and major environmental impacts. The LCI flows and environmental impacts were converted to a functional unit of 1 m2 of the wood panel (ie final product) produced. The following products were evaluated with their stated panel thicknesses in millimeters: oriented strandboard (9.5), Southeast (SE) and Pacific Northwest (PNW) softwood plywood (9.5), cellulosic fiberboard (12.7), and hardboard (3.2). Results are provided on cumulative primary energy consumption (CPEC) and global warming impacts (GWI). CPEC was 74.0, 73.5 (SE), 68.7 (PNW), 76.0, and 88.3 MJ/m2, with biomass-derived energy percentage of 50, 50 (SE), 64 (PNW), 12, and 47, respectively. GWI was 1.97, 1.90 (SE), 1.23 (PNW), 3.91, and 2.47 kg CO2 equivalent/m2, respectively. Densities and panel thicknesses have the greatest impacts on converting from a cubic meter to a square meter basis. The panel products evaluated here are mostly not interchangeable. Thus, results for the panel products should not be compared. Using woody biomass energy for panel production decreases their contribution to climate change.

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    Bergman, R. D.; Kaestner, D.; Taylor, A. M. 2016. Life cycle impacts of North American wood panel manufacturing. Wood and Fiber Science. 48: 40-53.


    Wood panels, environmental performance, GHG, climate change, building materials

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