New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) seeks your help in developing a new solution to help solve the climate crisis. NEFF has developed Exemplary Forestry management standards that, combined with programs to protect forests and new technologies for mass timber (explanation below) buildings, could play a major role in reducing carbon pollution. Just applying the Exemplary Forestry management standards to forests in northern New England could store enough additional carbon in the form of living trees to lock up the emissions from every vehicle in New England for the next 20 years. With your help we can complete a particular type of scientific study to document the benefits and make the case for this new approach.
The study, known as a life-cycle assessment, would examine the comparative benefit to the atmosphere of using wood from northern forests in mass timber buildings instead of building them out of steel and concrete, whose production processes churn out greenhouse gases. These new wood technologies are already in use in buildings like the new six-story dormitory at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Analyzing the life-cycle benefits of spruce and fir construction will help to motivate the changes and incentives needed to encourage mass timber construction in New England. Spruce and fir are already approved for use in new technologies like cross-laminated timber, but the climate benefits of using them this way are not fully defined. Building enough mass timber buildings to hold off the climate catastrophe requires big changes in regulations, mindsets, and practices all through the construction sector. We need to provide powerful evidence particular to New England that will help us motivate those changes. Specifically, with a comprehensive life-cycle analysis in-hand, NEFF will be a more successful advocate for construction companies to write sourcing requirements that drive for New England sourced wood.
Want to learn more? This October, NEFF coauthored a New York Times op-ed about mass timber and Exemplary Forestry as climate solutions with experts from Harvard Forest, the Highstead Foundation, and Brandeis University: Let’s Fill Our Cities With Taller, Wooden Buildings
What is mass timber? Massive engineered timber (mass timber) provides a more sustainable alternative to steel and concrete, and it is also strong enough to replace these materials in taller buildings. Cross-laminated timber, a key mass timber product, is made by gluing small pieces of wood together in perpendicular layers to create large panels. These panels are used for wall, floor and ceiling construction.