CO2 & Building

Learning about Product Life Cycles, Carbon Sequestration, Embodied Carbon and Supply Chains

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Why is Carbon Dioxide a Problem?

Why is Carbon Dioxide a Problem?

The harm done: Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere warms the planet, causing climate change. Human activities have raised the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide content by 50% in less than 200 years.

All things being unequal: In theory there should be a balance between carbon emitted, through human and natural processes, and carbon captured.  Currently we are emitting more than we are capturing. This happens when forests are being destroyed and when fossil fuels are being extracted and used irresponsibly.

The harm done: Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere warms the planet, causing climate change. Human activities have raised the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide content by 50% in less than 200 years.

All things being unequal: In theory there should be a balance between carbon emitted, through human and natural processes, and carbon captured.  Currently we are emitting more than we are capturing. This happens when forests are being destroyed and when fossil fuels are being extracted and used irresponsibly.

Wood for building is better: In addition to being carbon-neutral, studies have shown that wood takes less energy to manufacture products from than other materials. Manufacturing wood products, such as cypress siding and paneling, is mostly limited to kiln drying and running a saw blade. Alternative building materials such as aluminum, plastic, cement and brick can require up to 126 times more energy to process into finished goods.

Wood for building is better: In addition to being carbon-neutral, studies have shown that wood takes less energy to manufacture products from than other materials. Manufacturing wood products, such as cypress siding and paneling, is mostly limited to kiln drying and running a saw blade. Alternative building materials such as aluminum, plastic, cement and brick can require up to 126 times more energy to process into finished goods.

Building Material Life Cycle

The full life cycle stages—value chain or supply chain processes—of building materials include the extraction of raw materials, processing and manufacture of these raw materials, transportation, construction and retrofitting, use and maintenance, demolition and waste management disposal and circular processing through reuse, recycling, and recovery.

Embodied Carbon

Embodied carbon refers to the greenhouse gas emissions arising from the manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of building materials. Embodied carbon is a significant percentage of global emissions and requires urgent action to address it.

Just three materials – concrete, steel, and aluminum – are responsible for 23% of total global emissions (most from the built environment). There is incredible opportunity for embodied carbon reduction in these high-impact materials through policy, design, material selection, and specification.

Embodied carbon refers to the greenhouse gas emissions arising from the manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of building materials. Embodied carbon is a significant percentage of global emissions and requires urgent action to address it.

Just three materials – concrete, steel, and aluminum – are responsible for 23% of total global emissions (most from the built environment). There is incredible opportunity for embodied carbon reduction in these high-impact materials through policy, design, material selection, and specification.

Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change. urgent action to address it.

Storing carbon: As a building material, wood typically has a long, useful life as it stores carbon that would otherwise be released into the air as CO2 – in some cases, as long as 100 years or more. And when a building reaches the end of its usefulness, it can be deconstructed and the wood products reused rather than being landfilled.

Supply Chain

Why it matters for the environment: Reducing the number of stops along the chain and shortening the physical distances decreases emissions associated with transportation. 

Why it matters socially: Transparency in the workplace leads to better working conditions, increased wages and improved quality of life.

Why it matters economically: Ensuring that profits go directly to community oriented operations and not shareholders allows funds to be better directed to workers, Towns and small independent workers and businesses.

What has gone wrong: Mass distribution networks with centralized hubs have not matched locations of products and producers with sites of origin. Example: Wood from Europe is imported to Maine although Maine is the 2nd most forested State in the United States.

What can be done: Labelling. Allow the consumer to understand where their product originated along with the environmental and ideally social and economical impact of their purchase.

By the numbers: After 2 years in operation the Lumbery, by buying local wood and supporting small, family owned mills, has contributed over $1,000,000 to local economies in Maine and, due to reduced transportation, has kept 24,300 kgs of carbon out of the atmosphere.

What they’re saying: “What about quality and pricing? I can’t present my client with an environmentally and socially responsible product if it is too pricey and doesn’t hold up.”

  • Items produced by smaller manufacturers tend to be higher in quality.
  • You would be surprised. Pricing of local products, in many cases, tends to be in line with pricing from global manufacturers.

Why it matters for the environment: Reducing the number of stops along the chain and shortening the physical distances decreases emissions associated with transportation. 

Why it matters socially: Transparency in the workplace leads to better working conditions, increased wages and improved quality of life.

Why it matters economically: Ensuring that profits go directly to community oriented operations and not shareholders allows funds to be better directed to workers, Towns and small independent workers and businesses.

What has gone wrong: Mass distribution networks with centralized hubs have not matched locations of products and producers with sites of origin. Example: Wood from Europe is imported to Maine although Maine is the 2nd most forested State in the United States.

What can be done: Labelling. Allow the consumer to understand where their product originated along with the environmental and ideally social and economical impact of their purchase.

By the numbers: After 2 years in operation the Lumbery, by buying local wood and supporting small, family owned mills, has contributed over $1,000,000 to local economies in Maine and, due to reduced transportation, has kept 24,300 kgs of carbon out of the atmosphere.

What they’re saying: “What about quality and pricing? I can’t present my client with an environmentally and socially responsible product if it is too pricey and doesn’t hold up.”

  • Items produced by smaller manufacturers tend to be higher in quality.
  • You would be surprised. Pricing of local products, in many cases, tends to be in line with pricing from global manufacturers.

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Other local, sustainable products provided by Lumbery

Local, Carbon Neutral Building Products Offered by Lumbery

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