04 Feb The Environmental Impact of Using Reclaimed Wood
Using reclaimed wood paneling or creating a stunning an accent wall with barn wood does more than enhance your home’s charm, it may also help to reduce your carbon footprint.
Research on Reclaimed Wood
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service conducted research on using reclaimed lumber and wood flooring in construction. Using a method called life-cycle inventory analysis, researchers at the Forest Service measured the environmental impact associated with the use of reclaimed wood products.
Their findings should gladden the heart of anyone concerned about climate change and reducing their carbon footprint.
“Reusing building materials has a distinct advantage over using newly manufactured materials because these reclaimed materials avoid greenhouse gas emissions associated with new (virgin) material manufacturing,” the team of researchers, led by Richard D. Bergman, Ph.D., concluded.
In particular, the research showed that:
- The cumulative energy consumption associated with producing wood framing with virgin lumber was approximately 11 times higher compared to using reclaimed wood. For flooring, energy consumption with virgin lumber was approximately 13 times greater.
- The “Global Warming Potential” with virgin lumber was also much greater.
“These results indicate that reclaimed framing lumber and wood flooring have a significantly lower environmental impact than their two virgin alternatives,” the researchers said.
Green Building and Renovations
According to the folks at the digital media company Elemental Green, which focuses on green home building and design, “Buildings account for 40% of electricity use and produce 30% of CO2 emissions in the US.”
Making a dent in those figures is an important goal. “When you use reclaimed lumber, you decrease the demand for newly sourced lumber, which helps curb deforestation,” their website says. “If harvested responsibly, reclaimed wood is a renewable resource that reduces landfill waste as well as the use of environmental hazards to manufacture new products. For example, it’s better for the earth to install an engineered reclaimed wood floor than it is to install petroleum-based carpeting or linoleum.”