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Making the Sustainability Case for Timber through Life Cycle Assessment

Whether you’re specifying windows, panel products or structural elements, to assess the impact of your material choice on the sustainability performance of the future building, you will need reliable Lifecycle data.

Ideally, this comes in the shape of a specific product related EPD. Whilst construction product industries are catching up with this requirement, generic product type related EPDs help bridge the gap.

Wood for Good, the UK’s wood promotion campaign, is providing the construction industry with quantified data on the environmental performance of wood products used in construction.

As part of this work, Wood for Good has developed a freely-available lifecycle database for 16 wood products, plus datasets for adhesives and steel fixings. The database is aimed at a broad range of stakeholders including architects, design engineers and environmental professionals allowing them to have confidence in the sustainability credentials of the materials they are specifying. The available datasets provide a level of detail which allows users to perform their own calculations on building elements or at a building level.

Central to the development of the database was the use of life cycle assessment (LCA) to assess the impact of timber products from cradle-to-grave as well as providing data on a range of end-of-life scenarios.

While the carbon and energy benefits of timber are clear, Life Cycle Assessment allows Wood for Good to report its impacts for a number of additional environmental impact categories. This is to ensure that reducing carbon or energy has not resulted in shifting environmental burdens to alternative impacts. The assessment was conducted by independent consultancy Thinkstep.

The Wood for Good database provides full lifecycle data on UK-consumed wood products for the first time. Whilst applicable to generic wood products, it also helps to promote locally sourced and UK-produced products, rather than relying on data for overseas production.

This includes an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for UK-grown and produced kiln-dried sawn softwood using data provided by Wood for Good members.

Use Wood for Good’s free online hub to find the design and environmental data necessary to specify timber as your first choice material: windows, panel products, solid timber, structural products. Find further information in our user guide.

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