Technical paper: assessing carbon impacts of timber

Assessing the carbon-related impacts of timber is complex. Timber Development UK and its Sustainability Group commissioned Jane Anderson to write a Technical Paper on the topic. Anderson is a world-renowned expert on Embodied Carbon, Life Cycle Assessments and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for the construction industry.

She is the UK expert on CEN/TC350/WG3, which developed EN 15804:2011, the European Standard for EPD for construction products, and on ISO/TC59/SC17/WG3 which developed ISO 21930:2017. Anderson is active in promoting the measurement and reduction of embodied carbon and the use of EPD, and providing guidance on these issues.

Timber Development UK was formed in 2021 by the merger of the Timber Trade Federation and the Timber Research and Development Association. The organisation has more than 1500 members extending from sawmill to specifier.

“By bringing together the entire timber supply chain we aim to provide our members with the highest quality information, technical guidance and training to safely specify and design the timber structures of tomorrow, and create lower-carbon, higher quality, healthier and safer buildings using timber.”

The Sustainability Group commissioned Anderson to provide a clear explanation of the approach set out in the relevant European Standards and in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Professional Statement on Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment.

The Technical Paper Assessing the carbon-related impacts and benefits of timber in construction products and buildings, was published in November 2021.

“The storage of biogenic carbon within sustainable timber used in buildings is beneficial, as it keeps this carbon out of the atmosphere for an extended period of time,” Anderson writes in the conclusion.

“By accounting correctly for the sequestration of biogenic carbon, and its emission or transfer at end-of-life, this benefit can be clearly shown within environmental product declarations (EPD), and within an Embodied or Whole Life Carbon Assessment of buildings or infrastructure.”

Note: The diagram appears on page 10 of the Technical Paper. Download it here.

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