Wood as a Sustainable Building Material

This webinar for architects, engineers and other building design professions outlines what makes wood a green building material and clears up misconceptions on the environmental impacts of harvesting wood. It is presented by Katie Fernholz, President of Dovetail Partners, a nonprofit environmental think tank based in Minneapolis. Katie is a forester by training with more than twenty years of experience with forest management concerns. She has worked throughout North America on efforts to address sustainability in land use and material choices. She serves in many leadership roles in the forest sector, including as a board member of the American Forest Foundation and on the Minnesota Forest Resources Council as a governor appointed environmental representative.
Note: This course is approved by AIA (1 HSW/LU) and ICC (0.10 CEU). Do not navigate to YouTube if you require a certificate. A downloadable certificate of completion is available only when this webinar is viewed on this webpage in entirety, after completing a brief quiz and questionnaire.

Approximate length: 62 minutes.


Webinar Participant Questions with Answers from Katie Fernholz

Was there any re-planting from the 1940 to 1974 photos or was that all-natural growth?

The site was naturally regenerated. More information about the site and its history is available here: http://willhiteweb.com/washington_fire_lookouts/wolf_point_lookout/weyerhaeuser_tree_farm_251.htm

Do you have the comparative effluents of concrete vs wood framed?

A complete report comparing the environmental impacts of cement, steel and wood is available here:
Portland Cement as a Construction Material: How does it compare to Wood or Steel? https://www.dovetailinc.org/portfoliodetail.php?id=5e454c4f0a9f8
The following tables are extracted from that report and show the comparison of impacts between concrete construction and wood frame, including emissions.

How do you convince public-owned lands to contribute to the forest economy?

Public forests in the US include federal, state and local land management agencies and represent about 40% of the total forest area. These public lands provide significant economic benefit by contributing to the forest economy as well as recreation benefits and ecosystem services. In order to increase the contribution of public lands to the forest economy it is necessary to balance competing public interests.  Examples of this approach being successful with federal public lands in the Western US include the positive impacts of collaborative, multi-stakeholder initiatives that advance shared interests in job creation and rural economic development while also accomplishing ecosystem restoration in priority forest landscapes.

More information about the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program is available at: https://www.fs.fed.us/restoration/CFLRP/

At the end of its useful life, wood used in built construction will be demolished and head to landfills where it will release that carbon. It is not permanent storage; correct?

Many carbon accounting protocols define “permanence” as 100 years. Some wood use in the built environment meets or exceeds this definition.  Some wood is also re-used through de-construction processes, which extends the carbon storage. Lastly, when wood is placed in a landfill the carbon storage is also extended due to the greatly reduced decomposition rates within landfills.

More information about wood reuse and recycling, including deconstruction, is available in this report:
The Current State of Wood Reuse and Recycling in North America

More information about carbon accounting protocols in relation to wood products, including carbon storage in landfills is available in these reports:
Recognition of Carbon Storage in Harvested Wood Products
Wood Products and Carbon Protocols