Wood: A Carbon Neutral Material

Carbon footprint calculations

The carbon footprint is calculated by employing Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) principles and current methodologies applied to the production and manufacture of the building materials and components of building designs (often referred to as ‘cradle to gate’ assessment).

The principal source of CO2 associated with the production of building materials is the combustion of fossil fuels used, at all stages, to make those materials, together with the release of any CO2 from the source materials (often referred to as ‘embodied CO2’).

Applying known CO2 emission rates for various fuels and processes provides embodied CO2 coefficients (g CO2 /kg) for building materials.  These details are contained in a NZ-specific study authored by Andrew Alcorn of Victoria University. (Alcorn, A, 2003).

Under this methodology, when a tonne (1000 kg) of processed, finished timber leaves the sawmill, it is calculated to have removed a net total of around 1644 kg CO2 from the atmosphere1. This is net of all CO2 related to its growth, harvesting and production.

View: Case Study Nelson Forests Ltd. Carbon Footprint Assessment »

View: Full Carbon Footprint Report »

Carbon Calculators

Click on the links below to see how building with wood can reduce your CO2 emissions.

1.  Alcorn, A., 2003. Embodied Energy and CO2 coefficients for NZ building materials.  Centre for Building Performance Research, Victoria University of Wellington.

Embodied energy and co2 coefficients for nz building materials report (119 KB)