THEORY: You know what they say, wood doesn’t go on trees [disproven]

by Lindsey

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, last month or approximately 400 blog years ago, released a report called “Science Supporting the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Using Wood and Wood Products in Green Building Construction”. In short, wood (from trees) totally counts as a sustainable, “green” building material provided it has been verified by a credible rating agency such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council or American Tree Farm System. According to the USDA,

[a] recent lifecycle analysis found that harvesting, transporting, manufacturing, and using wood in lumber and panel products in building yields fewer air emissions–including greenhouse gases–than the resource extraction, manufacture, and use of other common building materials.

A spate of recent studies make similar claims–they’re listed in the linked report–yet the USDA puts forth that builders in the US have “misconceptions” about wood as a green building material and often opt to build with other materials.

This is an interesting problem to consider in the context of a place like rural Burkina Faso, an area facing rapid deforestation under the strains of mining, agriculture, climate change and local felling of trees for income-generating activities. If the government can continue to incentivize reforestation in areas with relatively limited access to non-wood building materials, it may make sense to consult with development economists, engineers and policymakers about the long-term economic and environmental implications of wood as a building material.

h/t Just Means