More Evidence that Wood and Natural Materials Store Carbon

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Timber Houses Lead a Double Life. As Carbon Sinks.
National Geographic points us to the work of Galina Churkina of the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research in Germany. TreeHugger has often made the case for wood construction as a way of creating less CO2 during construction and sequestering it in the building; Galina takes it much further, suggesting that
Anybody can increase storage of organic carbon in their house by buying wooden furniture instead of plastic and using natural materials like wool, cotton and silk for interior design. Using carbon-rich construction materials and furniture with a long lifetime would increase inorganic carbon storage in cities.
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Designing with Carbon Dioxide

She notes that production of bricks and concrete is more energy intensive than wood, with much higher fossil fuel consumption. But there is a caveat: the harvesting should be sustainably done.

Rising demand for wood must be accompanied by an increase in the area of forest under management for long-term sustainable timber production.


Ms. Churkina also notes that trees are very effective at keeping buildings cool through shading and transpiration of water. National Geographic goes further and quotes David Nowak of the U.S. Forest Service in Syracuse, New York.:

By planting trees around buildings "you avoid about four times more CO2 emissions than the trees sequester."

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Low tech Tips: Be Cool and Plant A Tree

In Planet Green, we wrote that a tree is as sophisticated as any electronic device around; it lets the sun through in winter and grows leaves in summer to block it.

So between planting live trees around your home built of dead trees and filling it with stuff made from other organic materials (and keeping it all a very long time) you can reduce your consumption of carbon based fuels, reduce the embodied carbon dioxide in the things you own, and store carbon dioxide for the life of your home and its contents. Sounds like a good deal all round.

More in National Geographic: Cities Trap More Carbon Than Rain Forests, Study Says
Environmental Research Web: Tomorrow's cities: a carbon jungle?
Wood Construction Goes Seriously Vertical. But Does it Really Sequester Carbon?
Timber Houses Lead a Double Life. As Carbon Sinks.
Designing with Carbon Dioxide