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Wednesday, 23 March 2016 15:40

Wood should be used firstly as a building material not fuel, German study finds

Wood should be used primarily as a building material because it stores carbon finds a team of German-based researchers, coordinated by Technische Universitaet Muenchen.

wood for goodThe TUM team has been investigating how wood supply and demand could develop by 2035 if used as a fuel and what the consequences of this trend might be. The study aimed to provide detailed data about efficient, sustainable wood consumption, which could then be used to support decisions made by politicians and businesses alike.

As burning wood for energy becomes more common in Germany, Professor Klaus Richter, chair of wood science at TUM, has spoken out against the environmental dangers of such a practice.

He said: "Using wood as a building material first and then later as a fuel has advantages for the environment. Timber is an important, long-term carbon sink and so we should be looking to use wood primarily as a building material."

Prof Richter goes on to state in the findings that using wood as a fuel would lead to an increase in unsustainable forestry, applying pressure on more trees to be cut down around the world. The study even found that "more jobs would be lost than would be created by the expansion of the wood fuel sector", as Click Green reported.

The findings of this report and advice of the experts who conducted it echoes wood company Norbord's beliefs. Their call to Use Wood Wisely, as part of its Better By Nature campaign, urges people to use wood in construction, DIY and furniture rather than being burned in wood fuel power stations. Norbord state: "As the research by TUM makes clear, using wood as a building material before using it for fuel is an effective means of locking up the CO2 contained within the material for decades, whereas burning wood releases the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere immediately."

Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Norbord - Better By Nature campaign