Wood is the ultimate green building material. It can be produced on an endlessly renewable cycle that both protects the environment and sustains rural communities. Its production consumes less energy, emits fewer greenhouse gases, releases fewer pollutants, stores more carbon and generates less water pollution compared with other building materials such as steel and concrete. It’s also safe, durable and beautiful. What’s not to love about it?
WOOD IS A NATURAL, RENEWABLE RESOURCE
After we harvest trees in our sustainably managed working forests and make them into a multitude of different wood products, we replant the forest and start the cycle over again.
We harvest only 2 percent of our land base each year, which means 98 percent of our forests are always growing and providing numerous benefits to society and the planet, including wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities and a variety of important ecosystem services. We plant about 140 to 150 million seedlings each year on our harvested sites — that’s more than 360,000 per day, more than 15,000 per hour and about four per second.
WOOD PRODUCTS STORE CARBON
As trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide from the air and store it in their trunks, limbs, roots and leaves. When we harvest trees at their peak of growth and turn them into wood products such as lumber, we lock that carbon into the product and then replant new trees to store more carbon. It's an ever-increasing equation that continues to pull more and more carbon out of the atmosphere over time.
Independent life-cycle assessments substantiate the low energy intensity of wood products compared with the energy-intensive processes required to mine and manufacture other building materials. In fact, researchers have found that buildings made primarily out of wood have significantly lower embodied energy — a measure of all the energy required to make a product — compared to steel and concrete. Separate studies published in Energy and Buildings and the Journal of Forestry, as well as findings from the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials, have determined that houses constructed with wood have anywhere between 17 to 58 percent lower embodied energy than those framed with steel, and anywhere between 16 to 55 percent lower embodied energy than those made primarily with concrete.