New Report Claims Wood Has Lowest Carbon Footprint, Sequesters Carbon

wood wars franke james image
Migrated Image

It's not just wood against wood, it's wood against steel! Image credit Franke James

A few months ago I got into a polite exchange with the writer of Which Emits the Most CO2 in Home Construction: Steel, Concrete or Timber? in Climate Progress. He claimed steel; I claimed wood in my response. He commented "You're a "Treehugger" writer? How about "Weyerhauserhugger" writer? It's pretty obvious who waxes your pen."

I had not responded to this yet because, as my commenter suggested, I should "investigate it in detail on your own", which I am doing, carefully and thoroughly. But in the meantime,a new report has been releasedby the US Forest service that, logically considering the source, backs wood.The report, Science Supporting the Economic and Environmental Benefits
of Using Wood and Wood Products in Green Building Construction
, by By Michael A. Ritter, Kenneth Skog, Richard Bergman of the USDA Forest Service, is described by the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack:

"This study confirms what many environmental scientists have been saying for years," said Vilsack. "Wood should be a major component of American building and energy design. The use of wood provides substantial environmental benefits, provides incentives for private landowners to maintain forest land, and provides a critical source of jobs in rural America."
"The argument that somehow non-wood construction materials are ultimately better for carbon emissions than wood products is not supported by our research," said David Cleaves, the U.S. Forest Service Climate Change Advisor. "Trees removed in an environmentally responsible way allow forests to continue to sequester carbon through new forest growth. Wood products continue to benefit the environment by storing carbon long after the building has been constructed."

Now even I would note that the US Forest Service is hardly a disinterested, impartial source, and will save my debating partner the trouble by noting that well over half of the references cited by the US Forest Service researchers at the end of the report are from CORRIM, which he calls "timber industry PR types that are "pure timber industry greenwashing with no scientific basis whatsoever."

I would actually also admit that there is very little new in this paper at all, but more of a call for more research. But it is a useful overview.