Building professionals in Canada are often champions of environmental care, and many are actively incorporating wood products into their sustainable building strategies for new construction and renovations because of its numerous environmental benefits. In addition to growing naturally and using solar energy, wood is both a renewable and recyclable building material. The proposal to modernize the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) to increase the height limit for wood construction from four to six storeys provides a new opportunity to use renewable, ”green” wood products to help reduce the overall environmental footprint of buildings.
The environmental benefits of building with wood are further strengthened when those products are sourced from inside Canada, where we have advanced wood manufacturing technology and progressive forest practices, backed by third-party forest certification.
Life Cycle Assessment
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a performance-based approach to assessing the impacts building choices have on the environment. The best way to understand the full environmental impact of any product or structure is to analyze its impacts at every stage of its life, including fossil fuel depletion, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Numerous LCA studies worldwide have shown that wood product-based building systems yield environmental advantages over other building materials at every stage. Wood buildings can offer lower greenhouse gas emissions, less air pollution, lower volumes of solid waste – all of this from a renewable resource.
Environmental Product Declarations
Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are standardized tools that provide information about the environmental footprint of the product being rated. They are, essentially, LCA “light” reports (similar, but providing less detailed product information).
The North American wood products industry has developed a number of EPDs, for use by design professionals interested in comparing the environmental impacts of building construction products. In Canada these EPDs were developed on behalf of the wood products industry by the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, and in the U.S. by the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (CORRIM). EPD assessments have also been independently verified by third parties, and published by the Underwriters Laboratories Environment (UL-E), an independent certifier of products and their environmental sustainability.
Products from a Responsibly Managed Resource
Canada’s forest sector knows how to take care of our valuable resource. We are world leaders in the implementation of progressive forestry practices, wildlife conservation and efficient utilization of resources and raw materials – and the sector is committed to continual improvement. Additionally, tough laws and enforcement, backed by more third-party forest certification than any other country, ensure Canada’s forest products are crafted from legal and sustainably harvested wood.