The benefits of using more wood in building is obvious

Wood takes less energy to process because it´s manufactured using solar energy through all the early stages. Studies have shown that increasing the amount of wood used in the construction of New Zealand buildings will have a significant effect in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and greatly assist in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol.

Estimates put the amount of fossil fuel used to construct new buildings at about 7-10% of New Zealand´s total energy consumption. Using more wood, as a substitute for more energy intensive materials in the building industry, would lower this figure. Steel or concrete frame houses were shown in US research to use in excess of 250% more non-bio-energy than a wood-frame house.

Wood has the lowest energy consumption and lowest CO2 emission of any commonly used building material, but that´s not all...

We can only design greener buildings if we consider environmental effects over the long term. That´s where life cycle assessment (LCA) comes in.

LCA is an internationally recognised analytical method that measures the environmental impacts of each stage of a products life. LCA asks some basic questions, the same questions that more and more people are asking:

How is the environment affected at each stage of the building products life cycle - from resource extraction, through manufacturing, transportation, installation and eventual disposal?

What is the total impact of my building material choice on energy use over the life cycle of the building?

How can these impacts on the environment be compared for one building design or choice of materials over another?

In other words, what is the “environmental footprint” of my building material choice?

LCA objectively measures the impact of material choices. Wood products are clear winners when LCA measures are used.