Spring 2016 Brown Bag Speaker Series
Interrogating Carbon Neutrality of Forest Products: New Directions in Spatially Explicit Life Cycle Assessment
Dr. Robert Vos
Assistant Professor (Teaching), Spatial Sciences Institute
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Friday, February 5, 2016
Global consumption of wood for products like paper, building products, and bioenergy is projected to grow 37% by 2030. Previous work demonstrates that when using spatially explicit life cycle assessments to account for carbon footprints of paper, there are wide discrepancies in footprint estimates depending on supply chain locations and harvest management practices. However, based on the rationale that timber harvest in working forests is carbon neutral, the wood industry still claims a negative carbon footprint for longer-lived products (e.g. buildings), touting them as a means to increase carbon storage. To test this assertion, we conducted a spatially explicit life cycle assessment (LCA) of structural lumber (harvest, manufacturing, use, and end-of-life phases) sourced from U.S. Pacific Northwest forests. Landscape-scale simulations of these forests (LANDCARB 3.0) over a 100-year period under normal harvest (vs. no harvest) revealed total C storage is reduced by 35%. Storage and offsets in other life cycle phases were relatively insignificant, resulting in a carbon footprint of 988 Kg CO2-eq per cubic meter of lumber. Fixing this critical carbon accounting error in the practice of LCA across industry hinges on fundamentally revising LCA methods to incorporate spatial data. The talk will conclude with a discussion on the expanding role of geographic information science and technology in making spatially explicit life cycle assessment possible.
February 05, 2016 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm