Carbon Footprint Print E-mail
Sustainably harvested timber has a very low carbon footprint compared to other building materials.

A carbon Footprint is a measure of how much impact a particular product or component has in relation to global climate change.

The use of sustainably harvested timber as a building material creates a much lower carbon footprint than does the use of other common building materials.

Recent research by the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Accounting compared the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the manufacture of timber products with the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the manufacture of common alternatives. The research showed that more than 25 tonnes of greenhouse gases could be saved if timber products were used instead of the common alternatives, to build a family home.

The graph clearly shows that the manufacture of timber building components uses considerably less energy than the manufacture of other major products such concrete, brick, ceramic tiles, aluminium and steel. It therefore follows that when you build your home, wherever you choose to use timber and timber products over the common alternatives, you will leave a smaller carbon footprint.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacture of different building components in a family home (Source: CRC for Greenhouse Accounting)
Greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacture of different building components in a family home (Source: CRC for Greenhouse Accounting)




Timber production also makes a positive contribution to reducing carbon emissions by being part of the short term carbon cycle that involves trees absorbing carbon dioxide from the air, releasing oxygen and storing the carbon in the wood.

Using trees for timber and other wood products in this way creates space in plantations and hardwood production forests for replacement trees to absorb more carbon from the atmosphere (this is called carbon sequestration).

What little energy is needed to process and dry wood to make timber is commonly produced from sawmill residues such as bark and sawdust generated by converting a tree into sawn timber. Excess sawmill residue is either used in the manufacturer of long-life panel products such as particleboard or medium density fibreboard (MDF).

The carbon in the timber, which has been absorbed from the atmosphere, is stored for long periods of time in an array of timber products such as house frame, roof trusses and flooring.

When a home is demolished or renovated, waste timber that cannot be reused can be recycled into a range of products including particleboard. Timber not suitable for reuse or recycling can be utilised to generate renewable energy, releasing the carbon back into the atmosphere to be reabsorbed by the growing trees. For waste not suitable for reuse, recycling or renewable bioenergy, Australian research is showing that end-of-life timber stores the carbon for very long periods of time in well-managed landfills.

For more information about timber a carbon footprints download a copy of Forests, Wood and Australia's Carbon Balance (PDF, 1.3 MB)

The carbon cycle of timber and wood-based products (Source: CEI-Bios, European Panel Federation)
The carbon cycle of timber and wood-based products (Source: CEI-Bios, European Panel Federation)

 
 
 
Forests, Wood and Australia's Carbon Balance
(PDF, 1.3 MB)
Forest & Wood Products Australia
Information about timber and carbon footprints
National Timber Product Stewardship Group National Timber Product Stewardship Group
The National Timber Product Stewardship Group (NTPSG) is an initiative of the timber and wood products industry to double the recovery of post-consumer timber and wood products.

Find out where to reuse or recycle your old timber or wood products.

Find resources to help you reuse or recycle timber and wood products.
Recycled Wood in Manufacturing (UK)
Guidance on separating wood for recycling at source by The Waste and Resources Action Programme (UK).
 
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