American Hardwoods
Real American Hardwoods

Photo courtesy of Birch Creek Millwork

As the environmental crisis persists, and increasing "Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions—from the extraction, manufacturing, transportation, construction, and even disposal of building materials, at the end of their useful lives"—continue to fuel the problem, there is one building material that can aid in resolving the issue—WOOD!

  • Healthy, "living trees store carbon. Harvesting trees transfers carbon from the forest to wood products. Wood products can store carbon for decades and using wood products mitigates carbon emissions. At the end of its useful life, wood in products can often be recovered and recycled into other products.
  • Sustainably harvesting forest carbon not only provides significant opportunities for carbon storage, but also mitigation when wood products displace fossil fuels and fossil-fuels intensive products."

Here's How We Know

For decades, the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (CORRIM) has been conducting Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) research on the environmental impacts of production, use, and disposal of forest products.

  • "The LCAs show the fundamental differences in GHG impacts between using wood products, compared with other building materials that have higher fossil fuel inputs.
  • LCAs also measure net carbon stores—the amount of sequestered or stored carbon—in forests and in wood products, as well as the impacts of substituting wood products for equivalent non-renewable building products."

The research consistently shows "that both living trees and wood products offer opportunities for storing carbon. And that using wood products, instead of other building materials like steel and concrete, is beneficial in terms of lower GHG emissions."

Bottom Line

All materials have a carbon footprint, even wood and wood products. Yet no other building material can boast an environmental solution. "The best uses of wood provide an advance 'carbon negative technology.'"


Acknowledgement: This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy, under the Bioenergy Technology Office. Visit www.corrim.org for Factsheet 2, October 2020, “Reducing Carbon Emissions by Using Wood Products.”

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