Study Promotes Construction With Wood Over Steel and Concrete to Reduce Emissions

construction with woodA new study from Yale University and the University of Washington suggests that returning to widespread construction with wood will significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel consumption around the world.

Once the most commonly used material for building homes and commercial structures, wood has gradually moved to a lesser role in favor of concrete and steel. Concerns over sustainability and forest biodiversity have also restricted the use of wood. Now, however, evidence indicates that putting wood to increased use in constructing buildings and bridges will have a positive environmental effect.

Researchers Nedal T. Nassar of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Bruce R. Lippke and James B. McCarter of the University of Washington make this claim in their paper, “Carbon Fossil Fuel, and Biodiversity Mitigation with Woods and Forests,” published in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry.

The researchers presented evidence that sustainable management of forest and wood resources will retain an acceptable level of tree-based carbon storage ability while also maintaining forest biodiversity.

Over the course of a year, wood growth amounts to 17 billion cubic meters, the researchers found. The annual global harvest of wood amounts to 20 percent of that, some 3.4 billion cubic meters. Increasing total wood harvests to 34 percent or more of annual wood growth would have substantial positive results, such as:

  • Decrease of global CO2 emissions related to steel and concrete by more than 30 percent.
  • Reduction of fossil fuel usage by 12 to 19 percent.
  • Decreased chance of massive wildfires that destroy large tracts of forest resources.
  • Better combinations of forest habitats, in both reserved and nonreserved areas, that will boost biodiversity around the world.

The researchers applied scenarios that included using wood as an energy source, eliminating wood harvests in some forests, and using wood more frequently in the construction industry.

Construction Monitor is the construction industry’s premier source of building permit data and construction information from projects throughout the country. Contact us today for more information.

Image via

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *