Energy and Biomass

Wood is the most energy-efficient building material available today. When you compare the total energy costs of different kinds of building materials, including the cost to acquire the raw material, transport it, process it into a useful product and then actually use it, wood far outshines its competitors.

Energy Comparison of Wood Products and Equivalent Non-Wood Substitutes
Million BTU per ovendry ton

Steel wall studs require almost 9 times more energy to produce than 2x4 wood studs. A brick veneer wall requires 22 times more energy than wood siding, while alumi-num siding requires 5 times more energy and results in 8 times the air pollution emissions and 300 times the water pollution emissions. A concrete floor requires 21 times more energy to produce than an equivalent wood floor. Concrete production also results in 5 times more solid waste and emits 2-3 times more carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons than equivalent wood products.

The U.S. uses more tons of wood annually than concrete, steel and plastic combined. For every billion board feet of wood we use instead of other building materials, we're saving 720 million gallons of oil and preventing 7.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering our atmosphere!

  • Woody Biomass Programmatic Investments: An Independent Review and Recommendations external review commissionedby the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to provide an assessment of its programmatic investments in the rapidly-changing woody biomass/wood-to-energy sector.
  • Why Wood is a Good Choice
  • National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) website dedicated to offering information to inform the national dialogue on renewable biomass energy from wood. (pdf, 1.6Mb)
  • Opportunity to Rebuild Infrastructure with Biomass? presentation by Dr. Jay O’Laughlin, February 2010 (pdf, 6Mb)
  • A Large Campus System Saves $5 Million Annually on Fuel University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho (pdf, 168kb)
  • Building Support and Partnerships for a Local Project Council, Idaho Schools (pdf, 166kb)
  • Managing Organic Debris for Forest Health PNW 609 (pdf, 1.2Mb)
  • Woody Biomass Forest Issue Brief (pdf, 125kb)

  • Idaho Forest Products Commission
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