Why Choose Wood Building Materials?

Environmental Benefits of Using Wood in Construction 

“One of the best ways to address climate change is to use more wood, not less. Every wood substitute – including steel, plastic, and cement – requires far
more energy to produce than lumber.”
– Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace.

Western Red Cedar Blocks

  • Wood is the only 100% renewable resource in the manufacturing of building materials.
  • Wood is the only naturally recyclable and biodegradable building material.
  • Wood has the lowest environmental impact compared to other building products such as steel, concrete, tile, vinyl siding, fiber cement siding, and stucco.
  • Wood products require less embodied energy. This is the energy used in the extraction, production, and transportation of the resource.
  • Wood products require little to no fossil fuels (a non-renewable resource) to produce.
  • Wood products produce less air pollution.
  • Wood products produce less water pollution.
  • Wood products generate fewer greenhouse gases.
  • Wood reduces carbon emissions, while concrete and steel increase carbon emissions.Western Red Cedar Trees Being Harvested
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is considered a contributor to Global Warming – young and mature trees reduce CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • Wood products are better insulators in homes and buildings, which reduces the energy consumption in both heating and cooling, making it the most energy-efficient material.
  • Wood building materials are 400 times better at insulating than steel and 15 times better than concrete.
  • Wood products produce less solid waste – both in the manufacturing of the products and at construction sites. There is virtually no waste in manufacturing wood products.
  • Wood products generate fewer greenhouse gases. Wood reduces carbon emissions, while concrete and steel increase carbon emissions.
  • Wood products have the lowest ecological resource use index. This means that while trees are harvested, the effects are only short-term as reforestation follows. Other products have long-term effects as their resources are non-renewable, i.e., petroleum for plastic and ore used in steel and aluminum siding. Once these non-renewable resources are gone, they cannot be replaced. The trees themselves are produced naturally through solar energy.
  • Wood can be reused and recycled with very little additional energy. Concrete cannot be re-used in the same form but can be downcycled to aggregate with a lot of additional energy expended.

Old Growth Western Red Cedar stumps being harvested

  • No other building product is more environmentally friendly than wood, as demonstrated in “ATHENA’s life cycle assessment” research and study. From the growing of the tree to the disposal of the wood products, wood has a minimal environmental footprint.  Non-renewable products such as steel, aluminum, and concrete use up to 250% more fossil fuel energy from the production to disposal vs. wood.

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Western Red Cedar cants being transported for milling

We want to acknowledge and thank the following sources for the information provided:

Teal Jones Group

Coast Forest and Lumber Association

Canadian Lumbermen’s Association

The Athena Institute

The Wood Users Guide to Green Building

Western Red Cedar – The Environmentally Sound Choice!

High on the scale of “green building products” available, Western Red Cedar is one of the most versatile.

As consumers become more and more aware of their environmental footprint, their decision-making process in building materials is changing. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be challenging to determine a particular product’s total environmental impact.

While many building products tout that they are made from recycled materials or are “green” in some way, there are many things to consider when selecting a product. One must consider the energy used to manufacture it, the emissions that are created
during the manufacturing process, as well as how the product will be disposed when its life cycle is complete.

green building logo

 Because of its versatility, Western Red Cedar is used in various residential and commercial building projects, both inside and out. It is available in stress grades for construction, as well as finishing grades in wide variety of lengths, widths, thicknesses and textures. It has high insulation values, looks amazing, and is harvested from the world’s most sustainably managed forests.

And, when its life cycle is complete, Western Red Cedar building materials can be recycled and are 100% biodegradable.

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In a 2007 study conducted by Forintek, Canada’s leading forest products research organization, Western Red Cedar decking and siding outperformed man-made materials, used less energy overall, and had a lower impact on the environment, including global warming potential, acidification potential, ozone depletion, and human particulate (respiratory) effects.  The only criteria in which it was not a leader, was on Western Red Cedar siding. But, that finding can be traced directly back to the use of paint on the siding, not the natural characteristics of Western Red Cedar itself. Therefore, the consumer would have the ability to improve this rating positively by the choice they make in their paint or stain.

In North America, there are many examples of historic buildings that Western Red Cedar has performed beautifully for hundreds of years and there are also many new buildings that have used reclaimed or repurposed Western Red Cedar lumber. Additionally, when Western Red Cedar trees are harvested, those trees are promptly replanted. For every three trees harvested, eight are planted in British Columbia. While other products increase greenhouse gases, these new cedar trees actually improve the environment; more trees mean more oxygen.

Western Red Cedar Trees

So, when selecting building materials to use in your next project, be sure to consider a natural wood choice; Western Red Cedar.

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