Estimation of environmental emissions associated with U.S. production of lumber and wood panel products including harvesting, forest regeneration, transport and manufacturing
Life-cycle research on wood products plays a vital role in developing strategies for mitigating climate change. The main driving force behind climate change has been the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Unlike nonrenewable materials, renewable materials such as wood products burn woody biomass for energy thus helping offset the burning of fossil fuels during its manufacturing. In addition, wood products are made from trees that reabsorb CO2 emitted during manufacturing thus closing the carbon cycle. This project evaluated the extent of offsetting demand for fossil fuels by burning woody biomass for energy.
The primary method to determine the amount and type of CO2 released into the atmosphere is by life-cycle assessment (LCA). Life-cycle inventory (LCI), a major component of LCA, tracks all material and energy inputs and outputs flowing into and out of a system boundary. For a 'cradle-to-gate' LCI, the product is tracked from the forest (i.e. a tree) to the final product leaving the gate of a manufacturing facility. This LCI project examined a number of wood products made in the United States such as softwood lumber, hardwood lumber, and solid hardwood flooring. Results showed burning woody biomass for energy during manufacturing for all these wood products greatly reduces the environmental burdens by offsetting demand for fossil fuels.
This project was part of a larger initiative conducted by the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (CORRIM). CORRIM (www.corrim.org) includes 15 research institutions and focuses on the effects of producing and using renewable materials.
Forest Service Partners