Abstract

The building sector is increasingly identified as being energy and carbon intensive. Although the majority of emissions are linked to energy usage during the operation part of a building's life cycle, choice of construction materials could play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental end-point damages. Increasing the use of wood products in buildings may contribute to the solution, but their environmental impacts are difficult to assess and quantify because they depend on a variety of uncertain parameters. The present cradle-to-gate life-cycle analysis (LCA) focuses exclusively on a glued-laminated wood product (glulam) produced from North American boreal forests located in the province of Quebec, Canada. This study uses primary data to quantify the environmental impacts of all necessary stages of products' life cycle, from harvesting the primary resources, to manufacturing the transformed product into glulam. The functional unit is 1 m3 of glulam. This is the first study based on primary data pertaining to Quebec's boreal forest. Quebec's boreal glulam manufacturing was compared with two other LCAs on glulam in Europe and the United States. Our results show that Quebec's glulam has a significantly smaller environmental footprint than what is reported in the literature. From an LCA perspective, there is a significant advantage to producing glulam in Quebec, compared with the European and American contexts. The same holds true in regard to the four end-point damage categories.

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