Wood-frame homes are more environmental friendly than those made from steel or concrete, according to a new study of some universities and research institutes.
Additionally, the researchers, known as the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials, concluded that most of the energy required to build an decent home is consumed during the manufacture of building materials - not during actual construction.
The study has compared the life cycles of two hypothetical homes - one with a wood frame, the other with a steel frame - and the life cycles of one wood-frame and one concrete-frame home. The study determined that the construction of steel-frame home used 17 percent more energy than the matching wood-frame home, and the concrete-frame home used 16 percent more energy than a matching wood-frame home.
"If you're using energy, you're polluting water, polluting air and kicking out carbon dioxide emissions."
The study also concluded that the carbon emissions associated with energy use represent one of the more important environmental impacts. They estimated the global-warming potential of the steel-frame home to be 26 percent higher than the wood-frame home, and the concrete-frame home was 31 percent higher than the comparable wood-frame home.
"The use of wood products instead of steel or concrete can further reduce the greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels wherever lumber mills generate power and heat using bark, sawdust and other byproducts of milling,"
The report offers these additional suggestions on how to help reduce the energy demands of home construction:
* Recycle demolition wastes
* Increase durability of homes through improved products and construction practices
* Change building codes that promote excessive use of wood, steel and concrete
* Redesign homes to use less fossil-fuel intensive products
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