Does Wood Construction Benefit the Climate?

In the “Think Again” section of Conservation’s Summer 2012 issue, Sarah DeWeerdt laid out the carbon-storing virtues of using wood in skyscraper construction (“Tall Wood”). According to a new study, the benefits of using more wood in building and bridge construction are multiplied when you account for the energy- and emission-intensive steel and concrete that the wood replaces. (1)

Researchers from Yale University and the University of Washington calculated that increasing logging (from the current 20 percent to over 34 percent of global annual sustainable growth) could be a huge net positive for the climate. Using wood in place of steel and concrete could prevent 14 to 31 percent of global CO2 emissions. In addition, this increased wood usage could result in a 12 to 19 percent decrease in annual fossil fuel consumption, since scrap wood could be burned instead of hydrocarbons for energy.

1. Oliver, C.D. et al. 2014. Journal of Sustainable Forestry doi:10.1080/10549811.2013.839386.

Photo © Feverpitched/istockphoto.com

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