Compared to other major construction materials, the more sustainable choice is clear.
Over a building's lifetime – from harvesting trees through manufacturing, transportation, installation, use, maintenance, and disposal or recycling – wood performs better than concrete and steel in terms of embodied energy, air and water pollution, carbon footprint, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Manufacturing processes associated with wood products require less fossil fuel-based energy. They’re responsible for fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the manufacture of other major building materials.
Wood from sustainably managed forests is an excellent choice because it stores carbon for the entire lifetime of its use. It also employs sustainable forest practices that increase carbon capture. In the areas where we manage woodlands, we practice sustainable forestry management and replant the trees we harvest (and more) to reforest the land. These young, growing trees absorb more carbon dioxide than mature trees. Planting new saplings, matched with other forest management techniques, helps to increase the capture of carbon in our forests for us and future generations.
If you're curious about how wood products stack up against other construction materials, check out the Life Cycle Assessment (or "LCA"). LCA is a science-based method for evaluating the environmental impacts of products, assemblies, and buildings from pre-construction to post-demolition. Naturally:wood offers more information about Life Cycle Assessments for construction materials.