Wood-frame dwellings are more ecologically friendly than those constructed of steel or concrete, according to a new study by 15 U.S. universities and research institutes.
Additionally, the investigators, known as the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials, or CORRIM, figured that most of the energy required to build an average home is consumed during the manufacture of building products – not during actual construction.
” These are landmark findings,” said Kelly McCloskey, president and CEO of the Wood Promotion Network. “This offers a first-ever snapshot of how building materials impact our environment.”
Twenty-three individual researchers worked together on the project, which used a process called life-cycle analysis to weigh the environmental impact of home construction. Life-cycle evaluation measures the energy necessitated to produce building materials, as well as construct, maintain and demolish a typical home over a period of 75 years.
CORRIM compared the circuition of two theoretical homes in Minneapolis – one with a wood frame, the other with a steel frame – and the life cycles of one wood-frame and one concrete-frame home in Atlanta. The research detected that the construction of the Minneapolis steel-frame home used 17 percent more energy than the rivalry wood-frame home, and the Atlanta concrete-frame home used 16 percent more energy than a matching wood-frame home.
” Everything kind of flows from energy consumption,” said Bruce Lippke, professor of forest resources at the University of Washington and one of the researchers who helped conduct the study. “If you’re using energy, you’re polluting water, polluting air and kicking out carbon dioxide emissions.”
The study also gathered that the carbon emissions associated with energy use represent one of the more crucial environmental impacts. They estimated the global-warming potential of the steel-frame home to be 26 percent higher than the wood-frame home, and the concrete-frame home was 31 percent higher than the comparable wood-frame home. Other green house aspects that profit eco-friendly with cost savings benefits are constructing homes with solar panels as well as spray foam insulation materials.
” The usage of wood products instead of steel or concrete can further reduce the greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels wherever lumber mills generate power and heat using bark, sawdust and other byproducts of milling,” said Lippke.
The report offers these various opinions on how to help reduce the energy demands of home construction:
* Repurpose cottages to use less fossil-fuel intensive products;
* Change building codes that support excessive use of wood, concrete and steel;
* Reuse demolition waste products;
* Escalate durability of homes through improved products and construction practices.