The Green Choice
Life Cycle Report: Treated Wood Decking the Earth Friendly Choice vs. Plastic Composites -
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From an environmental point of view, wood can’t be beat. Wood is 100% renewable and recyclable.
As trees grow, they produce fresh oxygen and lock up carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming.
Of all common building materials, wood requires the least amount of energy to manufacture.
Wood is a superior insulator, reducing the energy required to heat and cool homes. Wood insulates 15 times better than concrete and 400 times better than steel.
Wood products are the most environmentally responsible building material available, making them the green choice. Wood is renewable, stores carbon and has a low environmental impact. In addition, wood products are the only major building products with a third-party certification system in place to verify their origination from sustainably managed resources.
Life cycle of wood building products
Wood products outperform other materials based on environmental measurements such as embodied energy and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Sustainable Resources – Wood products are produced from trees, a naturally renewable resource. More wood is grown each year in the U.S. than is harvested.
- Responsible Manufacturing – Waste is virtually eliminated when trees are used to make wood products. Bark, trims and sawdust are used as an energy source to help power wood production facilities. It takes far less energy and fossil fuels to produce wood decking than to manufacture composite plastic or vinyl decking.
- Quality Construction – As a building material, wood offers a unique combination of benefits, including strength, affordability, ease-of-use and environmental superiority.
- Long Service Life – The durability of wood products contributes to the long life of a deck. Pressure treatment further extends the life of wood products in service, helping balance overall demand on forest resources.
- Renovation Upgrade – The flexibility of wood makes renovating a home easy and affordable. Wood is builder-friendly, as well as environmentally friendly. Wood also enhances the aesthetic value of a home when used as flooring, cabinetry, furniture and molding.
- Recycle, Renew – At the end of their initial service life, wood products are easily recycled for other uses. Wood contributes fewer greenhouse gas emissions than non-renewable plastics or vinyl.
How wood reduces carbon
Wood products require less energy to manufacture – meaning fewer greenhouse gases like CO2. And trees use CO2 to grow, changing greenhouse gases into the building blocks we know as wood. That’s why wood products are increasingly recognized as tools to combat climate change.
- As trees grow, they remove and store carbon from the atmosphere.
- Through forest management, we increase carbon storage by harvesting slower growing trees and replacing them with younger trees.
- Wood products, such as lumber and furniture, store carbon during their life cycle. They are 50 percent carbon by weight.
- Recycling wood products allows them to continue to store carbon indefinitely.
Wood vs. Composites
Unlike artificial products, real wood works in harmony with the environment, blending naturally with the surrounding landscape. Compared to wood, production of plastic or composite decking can require up to eight times more energy. Composites are usually made with petroleum-based materials such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene or polyvinyl chloride. Compare real wood to composites here.