- Energy Efficiency
- Life Cycle
Sustainability of Building Materials
|Total Energy Use||Lowest||140% more||70% more|
|Greenhouse Gases||Lowest||45% more||81% more|
|Air Pollution||Lowest||42% more||67% more|
|Water Pollution||Lowest||1900% more||90% more|
|Solid Waste||Lowest||36% more||96% more|
|Ecological Resource Use||Lowest||16% more||97% more|
Source: The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute
Wood surpasses steel and concrete in energy efficiency through its qualities of:
- Thermal performance.
- Heat conductivity.
- Building codes.
Reforestation means that the forest is renewed after it is harvested. This renewal can either be by natural regeneration, by planting new trees, or by a combination of both.
Canadian forests companies are responsible for:
- Prompt reforestation
- Specific reforestation
- Ensured reforestation
Prompt Reforestation – Provincial laws require that all harvested areas be regenerated promptly after harvesting.
Specific Reforestation – Public land is quickly reforested with native species suited to meet local ecological conditions. See Biodiversity
Ensured Reforestation – Canadian Forest companies are legally obligated to track and ensure regeneration success. If a newly planted forest fails, the company must replant the area until it is properly reforested. Forest companies remain responsible for a harvested area until the new growth reaches what is called a free-growing state, which means there is assurance the young trees will grow into a new, healthy forest. This usually takes 6 to 12 years.
Every year, more than 200 million seedlings are planted in B.C. to reforest areas after logging, wildfire or insect infestations.
On average, each year 650 million trees are planted across Canada in areas where forests have been harvested.
Life Cycle of Cedar
Life Cycle Assessment shows Western Red Cedar is the environmental choice
Overview – The Study
Western Red Cedar Lumber Association (WRCLA) members determined commissioning a third-party LCA of siding and decking products was the only credible way to provide consumers with reliable environmental performance information. To place the study results in sharper perspective, a parallel study of alternative products including brick and fiber cement siding as well as composite decking products was also commissioned.
Forintek, Canada’s leading forest products research oranization, conducted the study in accordance with international standards in the ISO 14040/44 series, which requires that all products be treated equally and be of similar quality. Study results were presented for peer review to independent third-party organizations to ensure ISO standards compliance.
For Western Red Cedar products, the study was based on data obtained from a representative cross section of cedar mills in British Columbia and Washington state in 2007. Secondary publicly available data were used to develop life cycle inventories (LCIs) for clay brick, fiber cement and vinyl siding. Cradle-to-grave LCIs for wood-plastic composite decking made with either virgin or reprocessed plastic were also developed using secondary data sources as well as information collected from experts in the petrochemical and wood-plastic composite fields.
In order to evaluate the environmental impacts of the life-cycle stages of product alternatives, the life cycle was modeled as four distinct life-cycle stages: resource extraction and manufacturing, transportation to customer, installation and use, and end-of-life disposition. This approach helps identify where environmental contributions occur within the life cycle of each product system. (Click here for the Executive Summary)
Summary – Decking and Siding
The following statements summarize the LCA results of the study for decking and siding products, giving consumers a reliable basis for comparison. Environmental impact measures applied consistently to each product were: total primary energy on a cumulative demand basis, global warming potential, acidification potential, aquatic eutrophication potential, ozone depletion, smog formation potential, and human particulate (respiratory)effects.
Western Red Cedar (WRC) decking substantially outperformed composite decking in each of the seven criteria tested and was by far the product with the least environmental impact when compared with both virgin and recycled wood-plastic composite decking products.
Even after subjecting the cedar decking results to a ‘worst case’ scenario in which WRC required the replacement of 20% of boards in normal service and periodic application of coatings, the environmental impact results remained strongly favorable to Western Red Cedar over the ‘best case’ scenario for composite decking.
Western Red Cedar (WRC) siding had the best overall performance when compared to vinyl, fiber-cement and brick; it received top marks in five of seven impact criteria, including “global warming potential.”
Total life energy of Western Red Cedar siding can be further improved by altering end-of-life disposal practices away from the assumed practice of 100% landfill, to a mix of reuse, energy recovery and landfilling. This practice, already reality in many communities, results in cedar siding becoming a net “carbon sink;” other products tested remained green house gas contributors.
Cedar siding impact on smog and eutrophication – the criteria in which it was not the leader – can be traced directly to the use of paint, not the natural characteristics of cedar. Use of high quality paints and stains (some of which carry length performance warranties) or the use of the new water borne coatings would have a very positive impact on results.
**Please note, in each set of bars, the product with the highest impact in that category is the benchmark (100%) and other products are shown as a percentage relative to the benchmark. These are percentage values against a benchmark and not absolute values.
Western Red Cedar – The Environmental Choice
Western Red Cedar offers unique, natural performance characteristics and exceptional beauty that bring warmth, character and longevity to the interior and exterior of residential and commercial projects around the world. Whether you choose knotty or clear grades, Western Red Cedar offers virtually unlimited versatility and design flexibility in terms of size and profile.
Western Red Cedar is a truly sustainable building material. It has the lowest environmental impact when compared with other materials such as brick and fiber cement. Independenelty certified, it is harvested legally and sustainably from managed forests in British Columbia. Go Green with Cedar.