Life Cycle Analysis

The following article appeared in the July 29, 2010 Management Report of APA-The Engineered Wood Association (APA).

It is reproduced here with permission from APA.


Life Cycle Study Compares Raised Wood Floors with Slab-on-Grade

From an environmental perspective, building a typical single-family home with a raised wood floor instead of a concrete slab is the equivalent of taking 3.7 cars off the road for one year.(1) This comparison is based on a recent life cycle assessment of two floor systems completed for the joint APA/Southern Pine Council raised wood floor promotion program. The comparison, based on data provided by the Athena Institute, the U.S. Life Cycle Inventory Data Base, and Ecoinvent(2), showed that a raised wood floor is considerably less fossil fuel dependent, and thus contributes less to global warming, than the comparable concrete slab-on-grade floor.

The study compared the fossil fuel consumption requirements and greenhouse gas emission levels of the two systems, both based on a 2,500-square-foot single-story residential dwelling located in Atlanta, Georgia. Both cradle-to-gate and cradle-to-grave comparisons were analyzed. In the cradle-to-grave comparison, the wood floor system measured negative global warming carbon emissions compared to the concrete, with a difference of 18,822 kg of CO2 (the equivalent to annual emissions from 3.7 passenger vehicles), or nearly 180 percent, and significantly less consumption of both total energy and fossil fuel energy.

APA and the Southern Pine Council are promoting raised wood floor construction in the Gulf Coast region as part of the Raised Floor Living campaign. This is being done in partnership with the Binational Softwood Lumber Council. For more information on the LCA study and raised wood floor promotion activities, go to www.apawood.org/raisedwoodfloors or www.raisedfloorliving.com.

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