Carbon Mitigation Impacts of Increased Softwood Lumber and Structural Panel Use for Nonresidential Construction in the United States
More wood use in the United States to construct low-rise nonresidential (NR) buildings would increase consumption and production of softwood (SW) lumber, engineered wood products, and structural and nonstructural wood panels. Using a consequential life-cycle analysis, we estimated the change in net CO2 emissions thatwould be caused by increased use of SWlumber and structural panels in NR construction. Carbon (C) storage and emissions were projected over 50 years for baseline and increased wood use scenarios using the US Forest ProductsModule operating within the Global Forest Products Model (USFPM/GFPM) and the Southern region timber supply model (SRTS). Increased wood use in NR construction (C content of 428 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent [tCO2e]) could provide an emissions reduction of 870million tCO2e over 50 years or a net emissions reduction of 2.03 tCO2e/tCO2e of extra wood used in NR buildings over 50 years. The CO2 savings varied for products provided in the South, North, and West because of differences in biological timber regrowth; market-induced changes in land use; differences in timber arvests, lumber, and structural panel production; and associated differences in C stored in forests, harvested wood products, logging slash, and manufacturing emissions. The US South provided the largest net change, 2.83 tCO2e/tCO2e of extra wood products, followed by the North andWest with1.89 and0.60 tCO2e/tCO2e of extra wood, respectively. These results suggest strategies that result in increased use of wood in place of nonwood products in NR buildings would be effective in mitigating CO2 emissions.