TRADA puts numbers against timber carbon footprint

Published:  12 January, 2010

HIGH WYCOMBE: TRADA, the Timber Research and Development Association, has published a construction briefing, Timber carbon footprints, based on a study which quantifies timber’s carbon footprint for comparison with other materials.

The timber industry has long been confident that, in terms of its carbon footprint, timber’s environmental credentials are sound, but it has until now lacked the means to quantify this argument.

The product carbon footprint has been developed to assess emissions associated with each stage of a product during its life cycle and the TRADA study was commissioned to meet demand from engineers and design professionals for such figures for timber.

Membership and marketing manager Rupert Scott said: "Measuring CO2 emissions is not like using a ruler or a set of scales, however. It is more like profit and loss accounting, weighing up what is paid in against what is taken out. Assessing the carbon footprint of any material is therefore complex."

The Construction Briefing applies calculations to several different scenarios covering several types of timber used commercially in the UK. The aim is to provide data for design professionals, consider different end of life options (eg. fuel, waste) and to account for the carbon sequestration of timber in different ways (from excluding it to including it fully).

The scenarios investigated by the study include:


• Sitka spruce, Scotland, preservative treated – cladding

• Redwood, Sweden, hydro power – timber frame

• English oak, central England – green oak timber frame


• Iroko, Cameroun, decking.

The results are laid out in easy to follow tables and graphs in the Construction Briefing, available to TRADA members online. For further information email

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