CORRIM has produced its third special issue journal article series extending prior work on all the environmental impacts of growing forests to produce products to also include the potential impacts of the increased use of biofuels. A series of articles has been published by the Forest Products Journal (Issue 62(4) December 2012) featuring the potential impacts of 15 different biofuels on reducing carbon emissions and increasing energy independence along with other life-cycle environmental comparisons. These articles provide a more complete hierarchy of the efficiency of using wood to reduce emissions from fossil fuels. They are fairly complete on the carbon measures covering 3 liquid fuels, pellets under several different raw materials sourcing, and heat generation comparisons including increased use of forest residuals in the mill to reduce natural gas.
The work of 27 researchers from 9 institutions is featured based on research funded by USFS, DOE and private donors. A recent UW press release on the CORRIM research is attached. Since the articles identify many opportunities for improvement including policy implications, we hope to release more press releases featuring specific issues and opportunities. The articles are also available from the CORRIM website www.corrim.org with the direct page reference to the table of contents on http://www.corrim.org/pubs/articles/2012/FPJ_vol62_num04/index.asp.
If you would like hard copies, we have finally arranged for a number of copies that may be useful for making educational contacts on this research, just let us know. The individual articles are available by PDF.
While there are many research issues CORRIM should be working on, especially how to widen the consortium experience to the user community, architects in particular, funding models for such research have been changing radically.
We are concerned that if we do not continue our research and expand our education activities there will be major gaps that work against the use of wood products. While we have updated some LCI data for use in EPD’s the more important research issue is to update the LCI comparisons of products from different materials used in a wider range of structures, including furniture, which provides a much easier to understand tutorial on environmental impacts. If others pick up on this work without working through CORRIM we feel it will reduce the credibility of the research, while we believe the credibility can be increased if we can broaden our consortium of researchers serving several levels of users.
Wood is still taking a beating on whether it is sustainable and carbon neutral by researchers that do not include the full life cycle accounting that we have developed. More research needs to be done independent of EPDs although updated research findings will increase the utility of EPDs.
After the annual board meeting on June 11, in Austin Texas, the site for the Forest Products International Convention, we will respond with a summary of Board’s perspective on future research needs seeking additional feedback on research needs and funding alternatives.