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Redwood Decking is a Good Choice for the Environment

Photo of Life-cycle assessments help compares the environmental impacts of using wood decking versus non-traditional products. Tivoli Gough, USDA Forest ServiceLife-cycle assessments help compares the environmental impacts of using wood decking versus non-traditional products. Tivoli Gough, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Building products produce emissions throughout their lifespan, from harvest and manufacturing to use and final disposal. Using building products with low emissions, including greenhouse gases, will mitigate climate change. From cradle-to-grave, redwood decking produces low emissions compared to competing products.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Bergman, Richard, PhD 
Research Location : Northern California
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2013
Highlight ID : 441

Summary

Many non-traditional products are being made to replace wood products with no life-cycle evaluation for their potential environmental impacts. To address these discrepancies, life-cycle assessments (LCAs) following international standards are conducted to capture these environmental impacts and make comparisons. For example, wood-plastic composite and plastic decking materials are being produced to replace redwood decking. Therefore, LCAs were conducted on these materials and then third-party verified. Primarily because of redwood decking's ability to store carbon during use and low cumulative energy consumption especially during the manufacturing stage, all six key impact categories including global warming potential were still substantially lower in value for redwood decking than for the alternative decking materials. The other impact measures indicated high consumption of both non-renewable and renewable material resources for the alternative decking products. These LCA results provide the scientific basis for asserting the environmental benefits of using renewable building products like redwood decking in place of products that are heavily dependent on non-renewable energy and materials in their production.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • California Redwood Association
  • Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials