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

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

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