This report describes an analytical framework developed to assess the relative advantages and disadvantages of different building materials from an environmental perspective. The ultimate objective is to develop and make available a systems model which will allow building designers to assess the environmental impacts of using different kinds of building materials in structural applications.
When completely operational the model will deal with critical impacts on the physical environment, measured in natural units (e.g. gigajoules of embodied energy or kilograms of atmospheric emissions) in a holistic, cradle-to-grave framework. The model will be applicable to light commercial/institutional structures as well as single family and low-rise residential construction.
The purpose here is to report on our work to date, with emphasis on the framework and its application, and to facilitate an exchange of information with others who are taking parallel courses and grappling with similar problems. The report also includes some interim results for wood and steel building materials which demonstrate how the model can be used.
We start with a discussion of the concept of sustainable development because that concept is central to our approach. Subsequent sections of this report then detail the analytical framework and provide examples of the results we're obtaining.
Forest managers in western Canada are now treating old forest roads and harvested sites to mitigate environmental concerns. This Compendium has been developed to assist practitioners in western Canada in selecting and implementing restoration measures appropriate to their needs and conditions. Watershed restoration activities, techniques and research trials in western North America are described and contacts for further information are given. Additions to the Compendium will be made on an ongoing basis.
Forest resource issues in Canada vary by region, but in general, the forest industry is faced with a continuing decline in the volume and quality of available timber. Doing more with less will be the key to profitability. Changing, and increasingly fragmented markets, mean that industry must have improved information descriptive of the end- product potential of the current forest resource. Rapidly increasing expenditures on stand management make it imperative that governments and industry be provided with information describing how present silvicultural practices will impact on future wood quality. In some regions, where managed forests are approaching rotation age, information is needed to help industry examine its options for harvesting, processing and marketing this emerging resource. Forintek Canada Corp. has established a national program of resource assessment to meet the need for information that will permit the consideration of wood quality in processing, marketing and stand management decisions. The objective of this problem analysis was to ensure that resource characterization research is structured such that results of interdisciplinary work, done within Forintek or by cooperating agencies, can be successfully integrated to provide comprehensive answers to resource utilization and stand management questions. This report describes the development of the resource assessment research program, the goals established for it and the framework within which they will be accomplished.
This guide is meant to help Canadian wood product manufacturers navigate the green marketplace by serving as an introduction to the green building movement, which is an increasingly important driver of material selection. In addition to the voluntary LEED program in widespread usage through North America, several US green codes and standards are also in place, leading designers to turn to manufacturers for help in meeting some of the objectives of those voluntary and regulatory programs. Some important examples of green codes and standards include the National Green Building Standard for residential buildings, the Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings, the California Green Building Standards Code, and the US International Green Construction Code.
In this review, existing scientific literature was examined to summarize findings, or range of findings, addressing the net life cycle greenhouse gas footprint of wood construction products. Numerous international studies were reviewed for findings on fossil energy used in wood manufacturing compared to alternatives, the avoidance of industrial process carbon emissions as with cement manufacturing, the storage of carbon in forests and forest products, the use of wood by-products as a biofuel replacement for fossil fuels, and carbon storage and emission due to forest products in landfills. Interpretation of the various findings sought to clarify whether actively managing forests for wood products is better, worse or neutral for climate change versus leaving forests in their natural states. Data from a subset of the reviewed studies were then used in a meta-analysis of displacement factors, that is, the quantification of greenhouse gas emission avoided per unit of wood used in place of other materials. All of the studies reviewed found that the production of wood-based materials results in less greenhouse gas emission than the production of alternatives. Over the complete life cycle of wood products, the great majority of studies also found lower total emission for wood products. End-of-life management of wood products is the single most significant variable for the full life cycle carbon profile of wood products. The few studies with scenarios in which the greenhouse gas emission of wood products is greater than that of alternatives addressed worst-case wood disposal options. The overall consensus provides a clear carbon rationale for increasing wood substitution for other products, provided that forests are sustainably managed and that wood waste and by-products are used responsibly.