People are often shocked to learn that their wood is contributing to climate change, according to a report published by the University of Minnesota.
In fact, the paper says, “many woodworking products are emitting CO2 when used in the kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms.”
While wood products have an environmental footprint, they’re actually not the biggest problem in terms of CO2 emissions per ton of wood, said University of Minneapolis professor David Scharfenberg, a co-author of the study.
“In fact, most of the wood products we use are less than 1 percent of the carbon footprint of all energy-intensive wood production in the U.S.,” Scharfberg said.
For example, a cup of coffee made with 3,000 cups of coffee beans, for instance, emits less than 0.03 pounds of CO 2 per pound of wood.
But the paper notes that while the use of wood is the primary contributor to climate warming, there are other factors that can be contributing to the problem.
“Woodworking products that are made from recycled lumber, for example, are not contributing as much as they might,” said Scharfock.
The paper found that wood-based products that have been stored for years are emitting more carbon than the wood they’re replacing, which is a result of natural wood decay.
For instance, if a person’s home was built in the 1930s and the person is still living in the house, it would take 6,000 years to remove all the wood that has decayed.
The more wood a product uses, the greater the impact of the energy input, said Scharffenberg.
“The bigger the wood is, the more energy it’s going to generate,” Scharfberf said.
“If the wood in your kitchen is in excellent condition, you could burn that wood for five years, but if it’s rotting, you can’t.
That’s because the wood isn’t going to be able to take the heat.”
In the paper, the researchers looked at the energy output of more than 2,000 products that were either reclaimed from landfills or manufactured from wood that had been reclaimed.
“While wood is considered the most energy-efficient of all products, our results suggest that most of these products are not significantly more efficient than a comparable product made from other materials,” the paper said.
In the study, wood products were ranked based on the energy use per ton.
The top-rated products were the ones that used wood that was between 1 and 10 percent less energy efficient than traditional wood.
For the next-ranked products, the wood had an energy efficiency of between 10 and 50 percent less than traditional.
For a category called “other products,” the highest energy efficiency was between 10 to 50 percent.
Scharfeng’s study examined products that came from all over the world, and not just the U and U.K. The report found that while many of the products were made in countries that have environmental regulations that prevent wood from being used in ways that are harmful to the environment, the majority of products were manufactured in countries where environmental regulations are lax.
“We found that the majority were manufactured on the West Coast, where environmental standards are lax,” said study co-authors Elizabeth M. Stahl, a professor of wood products at the University at Buffalo and the author of the paper.
“That suggests that it is possible to make products that use wood and still get them to a point of sustainability.”
For example and because of the small scale of the research, Stahl said the study is limited to one product per country.
The research is the latest in a series of studies looking at the environmental impact of woodworking.
Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a ban on wood from the U, U.N. and other countries.
“This study shows that we can be very smart about what we’re doing and we can get the product to where it needs to be,” Scharfeld said.