Navigation Links
Using more wood for construction can slash global reliance on fossil fuels
Date:3/31/2014

A Yale University-led study has found that using more wood and less steel and concrete in building and bridge construction would substantially reduce global carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel consumption.

Despite an established forest conservation theory holding that tree harvesting should be strictly minimized to prevent the loss of biodiversity and to maintain carbon storage capacity, the new study shows that sustainable management of wood resources can achieve both goals while also reducing fossil fuel burning.

The results were published in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry.

In the comprehensive study, scientists from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and the University of Washington's College of the Environment evaluated a range of scenarios, including leaving forests untouched, burning wood for energy, and using various solid wood products for construction.

The researchers calculated that the amount of wood harvested globally each year (3.4 billion cubic meters) is equivalent to only about 20 percent of annual wood growth (17 billion cubic meters), and much of that harvest is burned inefficiently for cooking. They found that increasing the wood harvest to the equivalent of 34 percent or more of annual wood growth would have profound and positive effects:

  • Between 14 and 31 percent of global CO2 emissions could be avoided by preventing emissions related to steel and concrete; by storing CO2 in the cellulose and lignin of wood products; and other factors.

  • About 12 to 19 percent of annual global fossil fuel consumption would be saved including savings achieved because scrap wood and unsellable materials could be burned for energy, replacing fossil fuel consumption.

Wood-based construction consumes much less energy than concrete or steel construction. For example, manufacturing a wood floor beam requires 80 megajoules (mj) of energy per square meter of floor space and emits 4 kilograms (kg) of CO2. By comparison, for the same square meter, a steel beam requires 516 mj and emits 40 kg of CO2, and a concrete slab floor requires 290 mj and emits 27 kg of CO2. Through efficient harvesting and product use, more CO2 is saved through the avoided emissions, materials, and wood energy than is lost from the harvested forest.

"This study shows still another reason to appreciate forests and another reason to not let them be permanently cleared for agriculture," said Chadwick Oliver, Pinchot Professor of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Director of the Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry at F&ES and lead author of the new study. "Forest harvest creates a temporary opening that is needed by forest species such as butterflies and some birds and deer before it regrows to large trees. But conversion to agriculture is a permanent loss of all forest biodiversity."

The manufacture of steel, concrete, and brick accounts for about 16 percent of global fossil fuel consumption. When the transport and assembly of steel, concrete, and brick products is considered, its share of fossil fuel burning is closer to 20 to 30 percent, Oliver said.

Reductions in fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions from construction will become increasingly critical as demand for new buildings, bridges and other infrastructure is expected to surge worldwide in the coming decades with economic development in Asia, Africa, and South America, according to a previous F&ES study. And innovative construction techniques are now making wood even more effective in bridges and mid-rise apartment buildings.

According to Oliver, carefully managed harvesting also reduces the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires.

And maintaining a mix of forest habitats and densities in non-reserved forests in addition to keeping some global forests in reserves would help preserve biodiversity in ecosystems worldwide, Oliver said. About 12.5 percent of the world's forests are currently located in reserves.

"Forests historically have had a diversity of habitats that different species need," Oliver said. "This diversity can be maintained by harvesting some of the forest growth. And the harvested wood will save fossil fuel and CO2 and provide jobs giving local people more reason to keep the forests."


'/>"/>
Contact: Kevin Dennehy
kevin.dennehy@yale.edu
203-436-4842
Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Using different scents to attract or repel insects
2. UGA researchers explore function of cancer-causing gene
3. Using PET scanning to evaluate therapies of Menkes disease
4. RoboClam replicates a clams ability to burrow while using little energy
5. A study using Drosophila flies reveals new regulatory mechanisms of cell migration
6. Overpopulation: The transparent elephant in the room causing crucial modern crises
7. Urban bees using plastic to build hives
8. Findings point to potential treatment for virus causing childhood illnesses
9. Using engineering plus evolutionary analyses to answer natural selection questions
10. International deal to screen potential cancer drugs using DNA barcodes
11. Trial to test using ultrasound to move kidney stones
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/14/2017)... , June 15, 2017  IBM (NYSE: IBM ) is ... tech event dedicated to developing collaboration between startups and global ... June 15-17. During the event, nine startups will showcase the ... in various industries. France ... international market, with a 30 percent increase in the number ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... May 16, 2017   Bridge Patient Portal ... and MD EMR Systems , an electronic ... for GE, have established a partnership to build ... and the GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice ... These new integrations will allow healthcare ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... April 19, 2017 The global ... landscape is marked by the presence of several large ... held by five major players - 3M Cogent, NEC ... accounted for nearly 61% of the global military biometric ... in the global military biometrics market boast global presence, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/28/2017)... PHILADELPHIA , June 28, 2017 ... Pediatrics at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and Founder, ... author of a study that has helped clarify the ... disease (PD) and other neurodegenerative diseases. Denise Barbut ... of Enterin Inc. was senior co-author of the study. ...
(Date:6/28/2017)... 2017 (PRWEB) , ... June ... ... of Siemens’ STAR-CCM+® software for multiphysics computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation and ... exploration and optimization. STAR-CCM+ version 12.04 introduces Design Manager, allowing users to ...
(Date:6/27/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Brain State Technologies, a leading neurotechnology company, ... 15th to fund production of the new B2v2 wearable brainwave balancing headband. Over ... more than 150% in a little over a week. , Utilizing Brain State’s ...
(Date:6/27/2017)... ... June 27, 2017 , ... DuPont Pioneer (DuPont) and ERS ... the ERS patent portfolio covering CRISPR-Cas genome editing technology for all agricultural uses ... (IP) of the CRISPR-Cas technology from co-inventor and co-owner Emmanuelle Charpentier, Ph.D. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: