Are we able to dive deeper into these numbers to find ways to reduce a building’s carbon footprint in meaningful ways? What are the methods used to measure building material carbon footprint and do they tell the whole story? Are there simple tools to assess material choices? This course seeks to address these and other questions by explaining the principal methods and tools that are used to assess carbon footprint in the context of building materials.

It includes a primer on product terminology, including life cycle assessment (LCA), environmental product declarations (EPDs), carbon footprint, embodied carbon, and whole building LCA (WBLCA) tools. It explains how biogenic carbon is treated in standard LCA methodology and dives into the forest side of the equation, explaining basics of the sustainable forestry cycle. This course also highlights some ways to track and assure wood comes from sustainable forests in North America and why demand for wood products supports investment in forest management.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain what a carbon footprint is in the context of building materials.
  • Describe the difference between Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA), Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), and whole building LCA.
  • Describe different whole building LCA tools and how they can be used to develop a whole building carbon footprint.
  • Discuss what is and is not included in a wood EPD, and why.
  • Describe the biogenic forest carbon cycle and ways to track and assure forest sustainability in North America.

Pre-Requisite: Basic knowledge of wood applications.