Comparative LCAs of conventional and mass timber buildings in regions with potential for mass timber penetration

Manufacturing of building materials and construction of buildings make up 11% of the global greenhouse gas emission by sector. Mass timber construction has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by moving wood into buildings with designs that have traditionally been dominated by steel and concrete.

In new research, supported by TIG, the environmental impacts of mass timber buildings were compared against those of functionally equivalent conventional buildings. Three pairs of buildings were designed for the Pacific Northwest, Northeast and Southeast regions in the United States to conform to mass timber building types with 8, 12, or 18 stories. Conventional buildings constructed with concrete and steel were designed for comparisons with the mass timber buildings. Over all regions and building heights, the mass timber buildings exhibited a reduction in the embodied carbon varying between 22% and 50% compared to the concrete buildings.

TIG has been proud to support the work of the Consortium on Renewable Industrial Materials (Corrim) US Forest Service Forest Products Lab, University of Washington, and atelierjones LLC in this important research.