The use of cross-laminated timber (CLT), as an environmentally sustainable building material, has generated significant interest among the wood products industry, architects and policy makers in Washington State. However, the environmental impacts of CLT panels can vary significantly depending on material logistics and wood species mix. This study developed a regionally specific cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment of CLT produced in western Washington. Specifically, this study focused on transportation logistics, mill location, and relevant wood species mixes to provide a comparative analysis for CLT produced in the region. For this study, five sawmills (potential lamstock suppliers) in western Washington were selected along with two hypothetical CLT mills. The results show that the location of lumber suppliers, in reference to the CLT manufacturing facilities, and the wood species mix are important factors in determining the total environmental impacts of the CLT production. Additionally, changing wood species used for lumber from a heavier species such as Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii
) to a lighter species such as Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis
) could generate significant reduction in the global warming potential (GWP) of CLT. Given the size and location of the CLT manufacturing facilities, the mills can achieve up to 14% reduction in the overall GWP of the CLT panels by sourcing the lumber locally and using lighter wood species.
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