If you are a wood products company with energy efficiency in mind, you may be interested to know that WoodWorks, a cooperative venture of major North American wood associations, recently launched an online tool that estimates the carbon benefits of wood buildings. Released as a complement to the online cost calculator launched recently, the carbon calculator estimates the amount of carbon stored in a building’s wood products (which was absorbed by the trees while growing) and the greenhouse gas emissions avoided by not using steel or concrete.

The tool allows users to calculate the carbon benefits of wood buildings in one of two ways:

• If wood product information is known (such as the volume of lumber, panels, engineered wood products, etc.), the carbon calculator will provide a detailed estimate related to that specific building. The more detailed the information, the better the results.

• If product information is unknown, users can select from a list of common building types and receive an estimate based on typical wood use.

Companies who sell wood windows are taking notice.

Lance Premeau, LEED® green associate with Kolbe Windows and Doors, says any tool that can provide more information to the architect, builder and homeowner is a benefit.

“As sustainability continues to become the priority in the building environment, the AEC community and consumers need to have the proper tools to be able to calculate their impact on the environment,” he says. “Online calculators and comparison tools like this can be helpful in making more informed choices about lowering their carbon footprint and the benefits of choosing materials that are sustainably sourced, rapidly renewing, recycled and recyclable.”

“Although a building’s operational energy use is the first thing a lot of people think of in the context of its carbon footprint, it’s really just one element,” adds Dwight Yochim, national director of WoodWorks. “The choice of building materials has a significant impact. Life cycle assessment studies show time and time again that wood has less embodied energy than other materials, which makes it a good choice related to greenhouse gas emissions. The fact that wood also stores carbon makes the benefits that much more pronounced. Our hope is that, with the carbon calculator, we’re giving design and building professionals another tool that supports the objective of low or net-zero energy buildings.”

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