2022 journal article

Life cycle assessment of utilizing freshly cut urban wood: A case study


By: S. Alanya-Rosenbaum, R. Bergman, J. Wiedenbeck, S. Hubbard & S. Kelley*‚ÄČ

author keywords: Environmental impacts; Greenhouse gases; Lumber; Supply chain; Tree removal; Urban forestry
UN Sustainable Development Goal Categories
Source: Web Of Science
Added: October 24, 2022

Large amounts of urban wood resources are generated through tree removals in urban areas. Therefore, there is a growing interest to improve the environmental performance of the urban wood supply chain by quantifying the environmental impacts of creating high-value products from urban tree removals to enhance its utilization. By surveying existing urban wood utilization operations for primary data in two major cities: Baltimore, Maryland, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a new life cycle inventory (LCI) dataset per m 3 of dry urban hardwood lumber and live edge slabs was created. Incorporating the new LCI data into life cycle assessment method, the total global warming (GW) impact of converting urban trees to kiln-dried lumber was estimated to be 122 kg CO 2 eq and 336 kg CO 2 eq per m 3 of lumber produced for Baltimore and Milwaukee, respectively. In both cases, the total environmental impact of the product was dominated by the conversion of urban trees to kiln dried lumber at the sawmill processing stage . Using scenario analysis for the source of heat generation used in kiln (force) drying wood, substituting wood fuel from coproducts for natural gas in a boiler for Milwaukee resulted in a substantial reduction in fossil-derived GW impact. Urban and traditional hardwood lumber production follow similar GW impact trajectories over their life-cycle stages with the lumber processing stage having the highest environmental impacts for both. Increasing the overall lumber yield and decreasing kiln (force) drying would substantially improve the environmental performance of urban hardwood lumber and help make it comparable to traditional lumber.