Life cycle analysis (LCA) is a method of measuring the environmental impacts of building products over their whole life. The aim of a life cycle analysis is to identify, quantify and assess the impact of the energy and materials used and wastes released to the environment throughout the life of a building product. There are many life cycle analysis methodologies and all vary in their range and complexity.
By providing a means of comparing various building products, a life cycle analysis can help building professionals make informed decisions about building materials.
The life cycle analysis of timber follows the piece of wood from harvesting, manufacture, construction and product life to recycling and disposal. Life cycle assessments of common alternative construction materials (like cement and aluminium) have shown that many other materials require larger energy inputs during manufacturing. This energy is typically sourced from non-renewable fossil fuels. In contrast the manufacture of wood products typically requires far less energy.1
For more information on life cycle analysis download the reports listed below.
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1 Forests, Wood and Australia's Carbon Balance. Forest and Wood Products Research and Development Coroporation