Carbon Mitigation Impacts of Increased Softwood Lumber and Structural Panel Use for Nonresidential Construction in the United States

  • Authors: Nepal, Prakash; Skog, Kenneth E.; McKeever, David B.; Bergman, Richard D.; Abt, Karen L.; Abt, Robert C.
  • Publication Year: 2016
  • Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
  • Source: Forest Products Journal
  • DOI: 10.13073/FPJ-D-15-00019


More wood use in the United States to construct low-rise nonresidential (NR) buildings would increase consumption and production of softwood (SW) lumber, engineered wood products, and structural and nonstructural wood panels. Using a consequential life-cycle analysis, we estimated the change in net CO2 emissions thatwould be caused by increased use of SWlumber and structural panels in NR construction. Carbon (C) storage and emissions were projected over 50 years for baseline and increased wood use scenarios using the US Forest ProductsModule operating within the Global Forest Products Model (USFPM/GFPM) and the Southern region timber supply model (SRTS). Increased wood use in NR construction (C content of 428 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent [tCO2e]) could provide an emissions reduction of 870million tCO2e over 50 years or a net emissions reduction of 2.03 tCO2e/tCO2e of extra wood used in NR buildings over 50 years. The CO2 savings varied for products provided in the South, North, and West because of differences in biological timber regrowth; market-induced changes in land use; differences in timber arvests, lumber, and structural panel production; and associated differences in C stored in forests, harvested wood products, logging slash, and manufacturing emissions. The US South provided the largest net change, 2.83 tCO2e/tCO2e of extra wood products, followed by the North andWest with1.89 and0.60 tCO2e/tCO2e of extra wood, respectively. These results suggest strategies that result in increased use of wood in place of nonwood products in NR buildings would be effective in mitigating CO2 emissions.

  • Citation: Nepal, Prakash; Skog, Kenneth E.; McKeever, David B.; Bergman, Richard D.; Abt, Karen L.; Abt, Robert C. 2016. Carbon mitigation impacts of increased softwood lumber and structural panel use for nonresidential construction in the United States. Forest Products Journal. 66(1-2): 77-87.
  • Keywords: non-residential construction; timber market; net CO2 savings; manufacturing emissions; forest C; harvested wood product C; logging slash C; timber price; market induced investments; consequential life cycle analysis
  • Posted Date: April 27, 2016
  • Modified Date: November 18, 2016
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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
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