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Carbon Storage in Harvested Wood Products From Sustainable Forests

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Kyoto Protocols limited the credits given to established forests, but that approach to carbon sequestration and carbon offsets is changing.  Mature trees are storage tanks for high levels of carbon and particulates. 

The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute provides comparative  data for construction materials including wood, steel and concrete that takes a total energy use approach that includes total energy use, above grade energy use and CO2 emissions.   Wood is a superior material in this life-cycle inventory of large office building applications.

Carbon Dioxide in Forests

Tree growth sequesters considerable quantities of carbon:
  • Dry wood is 49% carbon by weight
  • For each pound of carbon stored, 3.7 pounds of carbon dioxide are removed from the atmosphere.
  • For each pound of carbon stored, 2.7 pouds of oxygen are produced.
  • Carbon is also stored in the soil, the litter, and in the trunks, branches, twigs, leaves, and roots of trees.
Trees also provide valuable habitat and food for biodiversity that converts plant matter into protein, which is vital for the animal kingdom.  Caterpillars and birds are key players in this highly productive food conversion process.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, Managing Editor of Solutions For Green

Publication Date: 11/7/2009
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