188.8.131.52 Increasing off-site carbon stocks in wood products and enhancing product and fuel substitution
Wood products derived from sustainably managed forests address the issue of saturation of forest carbon stocks. The annual harvest can be set equal to or below the annual forest increment, thus allowing forest carbon stocks to be maintained or to increase while providing an annual carbon flow to meet society’s needs of fibre, timber and energy. The duration of carbon storage in wood products ranges from days (biofuels) to centuries (e.g., houses and furniture). Large accumulations of wood products have occurred in landfills (Micales and Skog, 1997). When used to displace fossil fuels, woodfuels can provide sustained carbon benefits, and constitute a large mitigation option (see Box 9.2).
Wood products can displace more fossil-fuel intensive construction materials such as concrete, steel, aluminium, and plastics, which can result in significant emission reductions (Petersen and Solberg, 2002). Research from Sweden and Finland suggests that constructing apartment buildings with wooden frames instead of concrete frames reduces lifecycle net carbon emissions by 110 to 470 kg CO2 per square metre of floor area (Gustavsson and Sathre, 2006). The mitigation benefit is greater if wood is first used to replace concrete building material and then after disposal, as biofuel.