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Environmental impacts of redwood lumber: a cradle-to-gate assessmentAuthor(s): Kamalakanta Sahoo; Richard D. Bergman
Source: In: Proceedings, 62nd international convention of the society of wood science and technology. 266-277.
Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
Station: Forest Products Laboratory
PDF: Download Publication (869.0 KB)
DescriptionGlobal demand for construction materials has grown greatly in the last century, contributing to unsustainable growth and detrimental impacts on the ecosystem. To aid in sustainable growth and reduce our environmental footprint, renewable construction materials, such as lumber, have been incorporated into green building activities. To quantify the environmental footprints of construction products, a method called life-cycle assessment is used. This study determined the environmental attributes associated with manufacturing redwood lumber in northern California using the unit process approach (1 m3 or 380 oven-dry kg of lumber as the declared unit). The cradle-to-gate cumulative fossil energy demand of redwood lumber was found to be 1,120 MJ/m3 of redwood lumber produced. Greenhouse gas emissions were estimated at about 69.8 kgCO2e/m3 of lumber produced excluding carbon storage in the lumber. Upstream operations (including silviculture, harvesting, and transport) and mainstream (mill) operations (including sawing, drying, and planing) contributed 52% and 48% of total greenhouse gas emissions, respectively. Carbon stored in redwood lumber is about twelve times more than its cradle-to-gate carbon footprint, a substantial environmental benefit. Many redwood lumber products such as decking are used green, and a large portion of green lumber is only air-dried, which has a much lower carbon footprint than kiln-dried lumber. In addition, even if the lumber requires kiln-drying, the heat comes from burning on-site mill residues, considered a carbonneutral energy source. For wood production life-cycle stages, force- (kiln-) drying lumber tends to use a lot of thermal energy (albeit mostly from mill residues) compared with the whole life cycle. However, the carbon footprint for the redwood lumber drying unit process is low, only 14%, because the product tends to be used green. Furthermore, using mill residues to produce on-site combined heat and power (co-generation) was shown to be the most efficient way to reduce the environmental footprints of lumber production. Overall, the results showed that redwood lumber used in the construction sector can act as a carbon sink and can mitigate impacts to our ecosystem.
CitationSahoo, Kamalakanta; Bergman, Richard D. 2019. Environmental impacts of redwood lumber: a cradle-to-gate assessment. In: Proceedings, 62nd international convention of the society of wood science and technology. 266-277.
KeywordsLifecycle assessment, redwood, lumber, forest products, co-generation, carbon, green building materials, EPD, carbon footprint
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