Environmental Impact of Manufacturing Softwood Lumber in Northeastern and North Central United States

Richard D. Bergman, Scott A. Bowe


Finding the environmental impact of building materials is becoming increasingly more important because of public environmental awareness. Accurate and precise life-cycle inventory data on wood products are needed to meet this demand. This study examined softwood lumber manufacturing in the northeastern and north central US using life-cycle inventory methods. Material flow, energy type, and energy use were identified for these sawmills. A softwood log mass conversion of 42.1% to planed dry lumber was found. Values of 355 MJ of electricity and 2730 MJ of processed energy per cubic meter were determined for manufacturing planed dry softwood lumber burning mostly green wood residues onsite for energy. Biomass and fossil carbon dioxide production of 187 and 65.1 kg/m3, respectively, were estimated. Lowering energy consumption would be of great benefit to the mills, and thus society, in reducing the environmental burden, especially in sawing and drying.


Life-cycle inventory;softwood lumber;LCI;green material;CORRIM;environmental impact

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