[Originally posted on EcoGeek. This seems to be based on a carbon footprint analysis, and there are other metrics that rate ‘green’-ness in other ways, so the argument isn’t as clear-cut (no pun intended) as the headline would suggest.]
Green building advocates and construction product marketers have different views of what the greenest building material is. Different ways of determining what green means will lead to different results. But according to a recent report from the U.S. Forest Service, wood is the greenest building material.
This analysis seems to rest largely on the carbon footprint of various construction materials.
“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.”
Wood is also unique as a renewable resource that actively sequesters carbon from the atmosphere. As they grow, trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and lock it into the structure of the wood. In doing so, wood is a carbon storage material, and that carbon is locked away until the wood decomposes or burns.
The report additionally recommends that USDA further its outreach efforts to educate the construction industry and the general public to be more aware of the suitability of wood for non-residential construction and to further study of the carbon benefits of the use of wood in construction.
image: CC-SA 2.5 by Andreas Trepte, www.photo-natur.de
via: Architect magazine