Consideration of wood products in climate policies and its linkage to sustainable building assessment schemes
Harvested wood products act as carbon pools during their service life and in many cases serve as substitutes for products that cause comparatively more CO2-emissions. In order to consider the climate positive carbon storage effect in a future international climate regime, one global accounting approach will be needed. The current state of negotiations for a new climate agreement amongst Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol suggests a growing consensus in this question (UNFCCC 2010). The inclusion of wood products in an accounting framework, however, would provide strong incentives for an increased used of woody biomass and an improved management of the related carbon pool. This is especially related to the construction sector, in which most of the wood material is used in long-lived products. At the same time, the construction sector is responsible for about 40 % of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as for about 30% of resource consumption and waste arisings. This is why certification schemes for the assessment of sustainable construction works are currently being developed. They provide indicators addressing the environmental, economic and social quality of buildings. Green building schemes also include the climate relevant impact categories of life cycle assessment methodology, i.e. greenhouse gas potential and energy consumption. Many life cycle assessment results reveal the potential energetic and material substitution effects that come along with the production and the use of wood products, which even further increase the positive contribution of wood products consumption to mitigate climate change. Therefore, green building schemes provide excellent opportunities to both strengthen and communicate the climate positive effects coming along with the use of this renewable material.