WASHINGTON – The Composite Panel Association, Decorative Hardwoods Association, and Hardwood Federation recently submitted a joint response to the Environmental Protection Agency's request for information on construction materials and products with lower embodied greenhouse gas emissions.
The group’s letter noted that wood products have low embodied carbon and that the full building life cycle should be considered when assessing low-embodied carbon materials.
Highlights of the letter to the EPA include:
-- “Trees store carbon throughout their growing lives. But the carbon benefits don’t stop there. Carbon is further sequestered when the trees are utilized to manufacture finished goods.… When there is a steady demand for fiber and the resulting wood products, forest sector operations ensure that forests will remain as forests in the future, creating a powerful tool to address climate change.”
-- “Any assessment of low-embodied construction materials should account for the carbon-storage value of wood products. To that end, it is important to recognize that the carbon benefits of the forests do not end with tree growth. Wood products make up 47% of all industrial materials in the U.S. but consume only 4% of the total energy to manufacture those materials. In contrast, manufacturing materials from aluminum, glass, plastic, cement, or brick can require as much as 126 times more energy than making them from wood.4 In addition, wood products are 50% carbon by weight, continuing to store carbon for the life of the product.”
-- “Wood is the ultimate renewable resource. Every piece of a tree, including bark, the solid wood core, and sawdust generated from harvesting and mills has multiple applications. To maximize sustainable uses for bits of wood not constituted within a finished good such as a construction material, biomass created in the manufacturing process is used to generate heat and electricity. This renewable energy source is often used to power the very mills and operations creating the biomass. In many rural, underserved areas this power is often sold back to the energy grid supporting local communities.”
-- “To capture a comprehensive picture of the carbon-capture potential of wood products as construction materials, it’s important to take a holistic view. To that end, EPA should recognize the sustainability of wood as a construction material through Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment (WBLCA) and related Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) that the current RFI may inform. By allowing a designer to choose from a variety of construction materials, he or she will have more tools at his or her disposal with which to construct buildings that carry a smaller carbon footprint.”
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