Petersen, Ann Kristin and Solberg, Birger
Greenhouse gas emissions and costs over the life cycle of wood and alternative flooring materials
Climatic Change, 64, (1-2), . (doi:10.1023/B:CLIM.0000024689.70143.79).
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Increased use of wood can substitute more energy demanding products and thus contribute to a long-term solution to the global warming problem. The aim of this article is to provide an empirical study on this substitution impact, its cost-effectiveness, and which methodological assumptions that are of highest importance for the results obtained. We have made a case study where we compare use of various flooring materials. The results show that floor covering in solid oak causes lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than the other materials. The difference can be ranked in the following order, after their potential for reduction in GHG emissions: Carpet in wool, carpet in polyamide, vinyl, and linoleum. At 2% pro anno discount rate, the avoided GHG emission in tons per m3 of oak flooring used is 0.1–1.9 for linoleum, and 11.8–15.5 for wool carpets. Unless the solution in solid oak is on total less expensive over the lifetime of the building, only the price of avoided emissions from a substitution between solid oak and carpet in wool is reasonable, compared to present carbon fees. The assumptions that influence the result most are choice of discount rate, carbon fixation on forest area, and waste handling. Empirical case studies like this indicate GHG emission reduction potentials caused by substitution, but should be complemented by dynamic input/output analyses and econometric studies. To analyse the flow of CO2 over time, they should also be linked to forest management models.
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