Using reclaimed lumber and wood flooring in construction : measuring environmental impact using life-cycle inventory analysis
With green building concepts becoming widespread in the construction field, building practices and materials are being examined for their environmental impact. Reusing building materials has a distinct advantage over using newly manufactured materials because these reclaimed materials avoid greenhouse gas emissions associated with new (virgin) material manufacturing. In a wood-framed building, building materials reclaimed during deconstructing (dismantling) may include framing lumber and wood flooring. This study quantified the energy impact of reusing these two wood materials in new construction or remodeling. This paper presents results of a deconstruction industry survey following Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials Research Guidelines. A life-cycle inventory approach was applied to track the energy consumption and emissions associated with reclaiming materials. This study showed how the material flowed through the various unit processes beginning at the deconstruction site and ending at a storage facility. We used weight-averaged material and energy production data to estimate the environmental impact of the two reclaimed materials. Results from this life-cycle inventory showed that cumulative energy consumed in producing virgin compared to reclaimed framing lumber and wood flooring was about 11 and 13 times greater, respectively. Global Warming Potential was about 3 and 5 times greater, respectively. These results indicate that reclaimed framing lumber and wood flooring have a significantly lower environmental impact than their two virgin alternatives.