Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Zhongjia Chen; Hongmei GuRichard BergmanShaobo Liang
    Date: 2020
    Source: Sustainability. 12(11). 15 p.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Forest Products Laboratory
    PDF: Download Publication  (2.0 MB)


    Buildings consume large amounts of materials and energy, making them one of the highest environmental impactors. Quantifying the impact of building materials can be critical to developing an effective greenhouse gas mitigation strategy. Using Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings (IE4B), this paper compares cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment (LCA) results for a 12-story building constructed from cross-laminated timber (CLT) and a functionally equivalent reinforced concrete (RC) building. Following EN 15978 framework, environmental impacts for stages A1–A5 (product to construction), B2, B4, and B6 (use), C1–C4 (end of life), and D (beyond the building life) were evaluated in detail along resource efficiency. For material resource efficiency, total mass of the CLT building was 33.2% less than the alternative RC building. For modules A to C and not considering operational energy use (B6), LCA results show a 20.6% reduction in embodied carbon achieved for the CLT building, compared to the RC building. For modules A to D and not considering B6, the embodied carbon assessment revealed that for the CLT building, 6.57 × 105 kg CO2 eq was emitted, whereas for the equivalent RC building, 2.16 × 106 kg CO2 eq was emitted, and emissions from CLT building was 70% lower than that from RC building. Additionally, 1.84 × 106 kg of CO2 eq was stored in the wood material used in the CLT building during its lifetime. Building material selection should be considered for the urgent need to reduce global climate change impacts.

    Publication Notes

    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Chen, Zhongjia; Gu, Hongmei; Bergman, Richard; Liang, Shaobo. 2020. Comparative life-cycle assessment of a high-rise mass timber building with an equivalent reinforced concrete alternative using the Athena Impact Estimator for buildings. Sustainability. 12(11). 15 p.


    Google Scholar


    Whole building, cross-laminated timber (CLT), environmental impacts, embodied carbon, cradle-to-grave

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page