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Wood versus Concrete and Steel in House Construction: A Life Cycle Assessment

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Abstract:



The environmental friendliness of building materials can be measured in life cycle assessments of the total energy inputs for the product, from cradle to grave. How do the environmental costs of wood compare with concrete and steel in housing construction? First we compare energy values for each material and for house components. Taking the viewpoint of a consumer, we then compare three typical houses in which steel, concrete, or wood is the dominant component. It appears that wood, wood components, and houses built primarily of wood require lesser amounts of energy in their manufacture, assembly, and operation. The robustness of the conclusions is shown by the degree of agreement among researchers and through an assessment of the impact of uncertainties in the analysis.

Keywords: embodied energy; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; wood products

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Graduate Chemical Engineer Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia, 2: Adjunct Associate Professor Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia, 3: Associate Professor Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia, timl@chem.eng.usyd.edu.au

Publication date: December 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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