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A review of environmental emissions from building and construction materials in comparison with preserved wood
2005 - IRG/WP 05-50224-11
A review of the public domain literature concerning emissions to the environment from materials which are used in the construction of buildings (e.g. Concrete, Asphalt, Galvanised Steel), in comparison with preserved wood, and a review of the approaches taken by the construction sector in assessing the risk from environmental emissions, in comparison with the approaches taken by the wood preservation sector.
E F Baines


Life cycle analysis of utility poles. A Swiss case study
1995 - IRG/WP 95-50040-05
Use of preservative-treated wood products faces increasing public and political pressure because of environmental concerns regarding the chemicals used to protect the wood. However, critics usually focus only on one single aspect of the whole life cycle of treated wood products, disregarding other environmental effects of timber utilization. To evaluate the ecological consequences of wooden utility poles (CCF/CCB impregnated roundwood and glulams) and their alternatives of reinforced concrete and steel, a life cycle assessment was conducted. Based on data from existing Swiss electricity transmission lines, a comprehensive inventory was established of all extractions from, and emissions to the environment caused by each process step. This inventory data was linked to possible environmental impacts using various aggregation methods. An evaluation was made for single poles as well as for whole transmission lines. The results show that impregnated roundwood utility poles in fact have certain environmental benefits when considered over their whole life cycle.
T Künniger, K Richter


Comparative life cycle assessment of Swiss railroad sleepers
1998 - IRG/WP 98-50117
The results of an environmental LCA carried out on railway sleepers made of prestressed concrete, sectional steel and creosote impregnated beech as used on main lines of Switzerland's railways are presented. All extractions from and insertions into the environment which were connected with the manufacture, use and disposal of the different types of sleeper were inventoried and assessed, in accordance with ISO 14040 guidelines. Included in the analysis were the sleepers themselves, the auxiliary materials and a part of the impacts caused by the construction work plus the maintenance of the track bed including the resulting transports. Creosote impregnated beech wood sleepers exhibit unfavourable ecological characteristics in practically all impact categories. When compared with concrete and steel sleepers, in particular the shorter servicelife but also emissions from creosote components during usage and the relatively complex rail mounting arrangement have a negative impact on their environmental profile. Several measures for an environmental improvement are discussed and investigated. It is especially important and realistic to reduce the emissions from creosote components during the servicelife of the wooden sleepers. This can be partly achieved by reducing the amount of creosote per sleeper unit. Considerably more effective is the use of creosote WEI type C instead of type B, which has a lower proportion of low boiling and therefore lower volatile components. Employing suitable optimisation measures in particular for lengthening the servicelife, would be an additional step to improve the environmental profile of the beech sleeper.
T Künniger, K Richter


Use of a stainless steel mesh to exclude formosan subterranean termites
1997 - IRG/WP 97-10199
Physical barriers are gaining in popularity world-wide as methods of preventing subterranean termite penetration and attack on structures. Sized particle barriers of crushed basalt or granite are approved for use in building construction in Hawaii and Australia. TERMI-MESH, a marine grade 316 steel mesh, was recently developed in Australia and is approved there, and now in Hawaii, for use as a termite barrier. We report results of a one-year field test in Hawaii to evaluate the ability of this steel mesh to prevent penetration by the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Nine test units, containing susceptible wood, were placed above-ground under conditions of high termite pressure at three field sites on the island of Oahu, and a tenth test unit was buried at one of these sites. Test units were removed after one year, and examined for termite penetration. Termites did not directly penetrate the steel mesh, nor areas where pipes had been inserted through the mesh, in any of the ten test units. In one of the above-ground units, however, a crack in the bonding cement securing a heavy fold of the mesh to the corner of a concrete block allowed termites into the test unit. In practice, the mesh would not normally be sealed to a corner in this fashion. Thus, a second field test has since been initiated to more accurately simulate use of the bonding cement to secure the mesh in construction situations, and determine whether improvements are warranted. Our results indicate that TERMI-MESH is effective in excluding C. formosanus; although, as with other physical barriers, care must be taken in installation to prevent termites from circumventing the barrier.
J K Grace, J R Yates III, C H M Tome, R J Oshiro


Corrosion of fasteners in treated wood
1971 - IRG/WP 303
Surveying tests for determining the corrosion rates of some metals and alloys in wood untreated as well as treated have been made. It is shown that ordinary steel corrodes faster than other common fastener metals such as copper, brass, aluminium and stainless steel do. Zinc coatings, however, will prevent the steel corrosion effectively provided that the coatings are thick sufficiently. Catalytic decomposition of cellulose by rusting iron is briefly discussed since the expectation of life for a fastener joint is not only depending on after the corrosion remaining cross-section of the fastener but also from the wood deterioration.
T Wallin


Protection of buildings, other structures and materials in ground contact from attack by subterranean termites with a physical barrier - a fine mesh of high grade stainless stee
1993 - IRG/WP 93-10014
A new type of physical barrier for the prevention of attack by subterranean termites on buildings, other structures and materials in ground contact - a fine mesh of highalloy (originally 304, now 316) stainless steel - has recently been developed and patented worldwide by industry in Australia. The termite resistance of the material was assessed by CSIRO in laboratory and field trials. In the laboratory over a 12 week period 25 g groups of Coptotermes acinaciformis from three colonies, kept on a limited supply of food, were unable to breach a barrier of the steel mesh that separated them from a supply of highly susceptible wood. Timber enclosed with mesh was buried below ground at one site in tropical, and one site in southern inland Australia. A variety of species of termite, including Mastolermes darwiniensis, Coptotermes acinaciformis, and several species of Schedorhinotermes and Heterotermes were unable to reach and damage the wood despite making intensive contact with the mesh surface (two years data). The very high resistance of the 304 or 316 stainless steel to corrosion ensures that the mesh barrier will remain effective far beyond the expected life-time of a building. The size of the mesh openings can be varied to exclude the smallest representatives of the termite fauna at a given site. Examples of the range of applications for the stainless steel mesh in protecting structures and materials from termite attack are given.
M Lenz, S Runko


Environmental consequences of various materials in utility poles - A life cycle analysis
1992 - IRG/WP 92-3726
A model for environmental life cycle analysis, LCA, has been created to compare environmental impact from transmission poles, made alternatively of concrete, steel, aluminium and pine wood treated with CCA type B or creosote. The main pollution sources and energy use are included in the LCA. One pole size, 12 meters long, is presented in the study, a so called "45 kV" pole. Poles of different materials can be divided into different groups considering different types of pollution. The use of poles made of concrete, steel and aluminium leads mainly to emission to the air, while treated wood mainly leaches preservatives during the operation and service phase. It is, by the knowledge we have today hard to compare these two types of discharge.
M Erlandsson, K Ödeen, M-L Edlund


Effect of humidity and temperature on fastener withdrawal resistance from CCA and ACZA treated Douglas-fir
2000 - IRG/WP 00-20209
The effects of preservative treatment on fastener withdrawal was investigated in Douglas-fir lumber conditioned to two moisture regimes. In general, conditioning samples to 19% moisture content produced more substantial changes in withdrawal resistance of galvanized fasteners than did conditioning to 12%. Treatment had little or no effect on withdrawal resistance of stainless steel fasteners. Withdrawal resistance of galvanized fasteners steadily increased in ACZA treated samples conditioned to 19% and there was evidence of corrosion where the fasteners contacted the wood. The potential for long term effects on fastener integrity are discussed and the potential for future studies are explored.
Sung-Mo Kang, J J Morrell


Heat treatment, thermal treatment, thermal degradation of wood, carbon nanotubes and Damascus steel swords. What do they all have in common?
2008 - IRG/WP 08-40399
Thermal degradation of wood is a well known phenomenon. Yet heat-treatment of wood can also provide protection for wood against certain environmental hazards. This paper explores some of the aspects of thermal degradation of wood fiber at relatively low temperatures with a surprising result. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were produced when a specific heating regime was used to carbonize the wood fiber. The results suggest that CNTs may possibly be formed in wood materials that have been heat-treated, or that otherwise may have gone through a high temperature regime or high temperature cycling.
Xinfeng Xie, B Goodell, Yuhui Qian, G Daniel


Repairing of wooden elements by beta-method using carbon, steel or beech rods
2010 - IRG/WP 10-40488
Presented paper is focused on repairing of wooden elements by Beta joints reinforced with carbon, steel or beech rods, and on comparing the efficiency of these joints with traditional carpentry joints. In model laboratory experiments have been determined the bending strength (fm) and the modulus of elasticity (E) of control or original elements (fm-Control; Eo) from Norway spruce (Picea abies Karst. L.) with dimensions of 1100x80x40 mm (length x height x width), and subsequently of the repaired elements (fm-R; ER), as well. The repair of elements was accomplished in their ends with supplementary prisms:- a) from the original spruce elements; b) from the epoxy-wood composite. Fixation of the basic and the supplementary prisms together with rods was secured with epoxy resins Kimitech EP-TX or CHS Epoxy 1200. Elements repaired with carbon rods had the modulus of elasticity increased almost in all situations (ER / E0 = from 0.96 to 1.34):- at using of shorter or longer rods (e = from 200 to 500 mm), - at using of one or two rods, - at putting of rods nearer or farther from the tension zone of elements (10 or 20 mm from bottom). On the other hand, all repaired elements had a lower bending strength in comparison to original ones (fm-R / fm-Control  0.87).
L Reinprecht


Conclusions and Summary Report on an Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Borate-Treated Lumber Structural Framing with Comparisons to Galvanized Steel Framing
2013 - IRG/WP 13-50296
The Treated Wood Council has completed a quantitative evaluation of the environmental impacts associated with the national production, use, and disposition of borate (disodium octaborate tetrahydrate)-treated lumber structural framing and galvanized steel framing using life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies and following ISO 14044 standards. The results for treated wood framing are significant. • Less Energy & Resource Use: Treated wood framing requires less total energy, less fossil fuel, and less water than galvanized steel framing. • Lower Environmental Impacts: Treated wood framing has lower environmental impacts in comparison to galvanized steel framing in all five of the impact indicator categories assessed: anthropogenic greenhouse gas, acid rain, smog potential, ecotoxicity, and eutrophication-causing emissions. • Less Fossil Fuel Use: The fossil fuel footprint of 100 linear feet of treated lumber structural wall framing is equivalent to driving a car 540 miles. In comparison, the fossil fuel footprint of 100 linear feet of galvanized steel structural wall framing is equivalent to driving a car 2,000 miles. • Recoverable Energy: The carbon embodied in wood makes out-of-service wood products excellent candidates for energy recovery. Treated wood can be used in appropriately permitted cogeneration facilities or synthetic fuel manufacturing facilities as a renewable fuel source. Impact indicator values for the cradle-to-grave life cycle of borate-treated lumber were normalized to one (1.0), with galvanized steel framing impact indicator values being a multiple of one (if larger) or a fraction of one (if smaller).
AquAeTer, Inc.


Conclusions and Summary Report Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Highway Guard Rail Posts
2013 - IRG/WP 13-50297
The Treated Wood Council has completed a quantitative evaluation of the environmental impacts associated with the national production, use, and disposition of treated wood and galvanized steel highway guard rail posts using life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies and following ISO 14044 standards. The results for treated wood guard rail posts are significant. • Less Energy & Resource Use: Treated wood highway guard rail posts require less total energy and less fossil fuel than galvanized steel highway guard rail posts. • Lower Environmental Impacts: Treated wood highway guard rail posts have lower environmental impacts than galvanized steel highway guard rail posts in five of six impact indicator categories assessed: anthropogenic greenhouse gas, total greenhouse gas, acid rain, ecotoxicity, and smog-causing emissions. • Offsets Fossil Fuel Use: Reuse of treated wood highway guard rail posts for energy recovery in permitted facilities with appropriate emission controls will further reduce greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, while offsetting the use of fossil fuel energy. Impact indicator values were normalized to better support comparisons between products and to understand the quantitative significance of indicators. Product normalization sets the cradle-to-grave life cycle value of treated wood highway guard rail posts to one (1.0) with galvanized steel highway guard rail post impact indicator values being a multiple of one (if larger) or a fraction of one (if smaller).
AquAeTer, Inc.


Conclusions and Summary Report Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Marine Pilings
2013 - IRG/WP 13-50298
The Treated Wood Council has completed a quantitative evaluation of the environmental impacts associated with the national production, use, and disposition of treated wood, concrete, galvanized steel, and plastic marine piles using life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies and following ISO 14044 standards. The results for treated wood piles are significant. • Less Energy & Resource Use: Treated wood marine piles require less total energy and less fossil fuel than concrete, galvanized steel, and plastic marine piles. Treated wood marine piles require less water than concrete and plastic marine piles. • Lower Environmental Impacts: Treated wood marine piles have lower environmental impacts than concrete, steel, and plastic marine piles in all six impact indicator categories assessed: anthropogenic greenhouse gas, total greenhouse gas, acid rain, ecotoxicity, and eutrophication-causing emissions. • Decreases Greenhouse Gas Levels: Use of treated wood marine piles lowers greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere whereas concrete, galvanized steel, and plastic marine piles increase greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. • Offsets Fossil Fuel Use: Reuse of treated wood marine piles for energy recovery in permitted facilities with appropriate emission controls will further reduce greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, while offsetting the use of fossil fuel energy. Impact indicator values were normalized to better support comparisons between products and to understand the quantitative significance of indicators. Product normalization sets the cradle-to-grave life cycle value of maximum impact to 1.0, and all other values are a fraction of 1.0. The carbon embodied in wood products, such as marine piles, is removed from the atmosphere during growth, stored for decades while the product is in use, and can be used for beneficial energy recovery at disposition. This temporary storage of carbon in the wood product reduces atmospheric levels of CO2 because the service life of the pile exceeds the time required for tree growth.
AquAeTer, Inc.


Conclusions and Summary Report on an Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Utility Poles
2013 - IRG/WP 13-50299
The Treated Wood Council has completed a quantitative evaluation of the environmental impacts associated with the national production, use, and disposition of pentachlorophenol-treated wood, concrete, galvanized steel, and fiber-reinforced composite utility poles using life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies and following ISO 14044 standards. The results for treated wood poles are significant. • Less Energy & Resource Use: Treated wood utility poles require less total energy, less fossil fuel, and less water than concrete, galvanized steel, and fiber-reinforced composite utility poles. • Lower Environmental Impacts: Treated wood utility poles have lower environmental impacts than concrete, steel, and fiber-reinforced composite utility poles in five of the six impact indicator categories assessed: anthropogenic greenhouse gas, total greenhouse gas, acid rain, ecotoxicity, and eutrophication-causing emissions. • Decreases Greenhouse Gas Levels: Use of treated wood utility poles lowers greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere whereas concrete, galvanized steel, and fiber-reinforced composite utility poles increase greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. • Offsets Fossil Fuel Use: Improved reuse of pentachlorophenol-treated utility poles for energy recovery will further reduce greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, while offsetting the use of fossil fuel energy. Impact indicator values for the cradle-to-grave life cycle of pentachlorophenol-treated utility poles were normalized to one (1.0), with concrete, galvanized steel, and fiber-reinforced composite utility pole impact indicator values being a multiple of one (if larger) or a fraction of one (if smaller). The carbon embodied in wood products, such as utility poles, is removed from the atmosphere during growth, stored for decades while the product is in use, and can be used for beneficial energy recovery at disposition. This temporary storage of carbon in the wood product reduces atmospheric levels of CO2 because the service life of the pole exceeds the time required for tree growth.
AquAeTer, Inc.


Aiming for eco-friendly log production and wooden construction!
2021 - IRG/WP 21-50365
In order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero by 2050 in the fields of forest and forest products, it is necessary to promote appropriate management and renewal of planted forests, and development of wooden building materials and the wooden construction of mid-to-high-rise buildings with lower GHG emissions. Unless we also try to reduce the environmental loads other than GHG for such development, we cannot simply replace it with other materials and construction methods. Therefore, we assessed GHG emissions up to the production of domestic logs which are the raw materials for all wood-based materials. The environmental loads of an office building made of the fireproof glulam impregnated with fire-retardant and an apartment using gypsum board-covered CLT were also assessed with those of steel-framed and reinforced concrete buildings. As a result, in log production, it is necessary to reforest after clear-cutting, and in order to give mid-to-high-rise wooden buildings the fire resistance required in Japan, gypsum board should not be used or alternatives with low environmental impact should be used.
N Hattori