With the green building market estimated to reach as high as $140 billion by 2013, securing a strong place for wood is essential to the wood products industry’s future growth. That means both telling the positive story of wood’s renewable, energy efficient advantages, as well as defending against anti-wood bias in rating systems. Strong, unified industry support is essential as the green building battlefield continues to spread from the state to the federal level.
Promoting Wood’s Environmental Advantages
More attention is being paid than ever before to how buildings impact the environment, including the choices of materials used in construction and how those materials help conserve energy during operation. Wood is the perfect green building material because it is renewable, stores carbon that reduces greenhouse gases, and is energy efficient. Winning acceptance for wood is a challenge, however, as competing materials and certain environmental groups seek to control the U.S. green building market.
Additionally, some green building rating systems, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s well-known LEED rating system, contain scientifically indefensible biases against wood and many U.S.-sourced wood products. LEED is aggressively seeking a government-sanctioned monopoly on rating systems which would seriously harm the use of U.S. wood products.
Here are some additional links to information and resources:
The industry has fought hard over the past decade to set the record straight on wood and has made impressive progress:
Wood products continue to store carbon absorbed by the trees during their growth cycle, keeping it out of the atmosphere indefinitely. Using wood in place of fossil fuel-intensive materials also "avoids" greenhouse gases that would have been emitted during manufacturing. Now, it is possible to quantify these benefits for wood buildings.
Athena Sustainable Materials Institute has released an update to the Impact Estimator for Buildings, a popular life cycle assessment (LCA) software package for building designers. Changes in this version include insulation and window updates, and adjustments to align with the latest US EPA impact characterization method and with emerging European standards for building declarations.