Life-cycle lessons from American hardwoods
Last night the American Hardwood Export Council presented some preliminary results from its high-level life-cycle analysis. Rupert Oliver of Forest Industries Intelligence, who helped brief PE International, explained that one of the benefits of LCA analysis is that it helps people make better, and better informed, decisions. For example, the results show that transport has far less impact on carbon dioxide generation than the amount of kiln drying. Thicker wood takes longer to dry and therefore generates more carbon dioxide. And oaks, which are slower drying, also generate more than other timbers.
Nevertheless, American hardwoods arriving in the UK have significant net amounts of carbon dioxide locked up. The challenge for architects and furniture designers is to maintain that net balance – partly through the amount of energy they put into processing, and partly by keeping the material in as raw a state as possible. Recycling and burning of waste timber for fuel are easiest without added preservatives and glues.
The specific figures apply to American hardwoods, but many of the lessons apply to those working with timber in general.