The American Forest Foundation (AFF) today welcomed a new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) showing that wood is truly the green building material, with environmental benefits that dwarf other common building materials.
The new study analyzed a life-cycle assessment of green building materials and found that growing, harvesting, transporting, manufacturing, and using wood produces less air pollution —including greenhouse gasses—than concrete, steel, and other material options. The USDA press release regarding this study is available online.
“Giving the green light to wood as the green building material should dramatically impact the market for sustainably grown wood in this country,” says AFF President Tom Martin. “Healthy forests need healthy markets, and the green building market is expected to grow to a $173 billion industry by 2015. Secretary Vilsack is a champion for working family forests, and understands their importance to America’s rural economies.”
The announcement by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasized the value of credible third-party certification systems, including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the Forest Stewardship Council, and the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) certification in verifying sustainability.
ATFS, a program of the American Forest Foundation, is the largest and oldest sustainable family woodland system in America, internationally recognized, meeting strict third-party certification standards. Its network of Certified Tree Farmers produce sustainably managed, locally grown wood on more than 26 million acres.
Using wood products in building construction can have significant environmental and economic benefits—in particular supporting jobs in rural communities.
Wood products manufacturing supports at least 25% more jobs per unit produced than materials such as steel and concrete. Currently, the use of forest products supports more than one million jobs and contributes more than $100 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product.
The analysis highlighted that wood sequesters carbon even after a building is constructed. And, sustainable forest management also means young, growing forests sequester carbon through new forest growth.
“Forest products are an example of where good for the economy is also good for the environment,” says Jad Daley, Climate Program Director for the non-profit Trust for Public Land. “America’s forests and forest products sequester 13% of our carbon emissions each year and provide countless other public benefits, like clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and recreation. Strong forest products markets will help keep family forests economically prosperous and maintain these important environmental benefits.”