An Assessment of Carbon Pools, Storage, and Wood Products Market Substitution Using Life-Cycle Analysis Results

John Perez-Garcia, Bruce Lippke, Jeffrey Comnick, Carolina Manriquez


The study utilized the results from a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of housing construction to analyze forest products' role in energy displacement and carbon cycling. It analyzed the behavior of three carbon pools associated with forest products: the forest, forest products, and fossil fuel displaced by forest products in end-use markets. The LCA provided data that allowed us to create an accounting system that tracked carbon from sequestration to substitution in forest product end-use markets. The accounts are time-dependent since the size of the carbon pools is influenced by harvest timing; hence the size of each pool is estimated under alternative harvesting scenarios and presented over time. The analysis of the alternative harvesting scenarios resulted in shorter harvest cycles and provided the largest carbon pools when all three pools were considered together. The study concluded that forest products led to a significant reduction in atmospheric carbon by displacing more fossil fuel-intensive products in housing construction. The result has important policy implications since any incentive to manage forest lands to produce a greater amount of forest products would likely increase the share of lands positively contributing to a reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


Wood products;market substitution;carbon pools;avoided emissions

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