Environmentally Friendly Decks: Redwood vs. Man-Made Materials


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Advertorial by SCGH
6/24/2013 

Summer has arrived—bringing warmer weather, longer days, and lots of holiday weekends. For many of us, summer also means backyard BBQs and more time spent in the open air. Installing a deck is a great way to extend your living space and enjoy the outdoors—right at home. Before you get started, however, it’s important to consider which decking materials to use and why. What aesthetic are you aiming for? What are the most environmentally friendly options? And, where is it best to invest your money?

With its newly awarded FSC®Chain of Custody certification (FSC code: FSC-C114790), The California Redwood Company (CRC) offered SCGH some insight on why redwood may be the answer to all of the above.  We know warm, natural wood decks are beautiful—and can add significant value to your home—but what about the rest?

According to a recent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) commissioned by The California Redwood Association and conducted by independent research party CORRIM, redwood promises a variety of environmental advantages when compared with man-made materials such as plastic and wood-plastic composites. In sum, when harvested responsibly and in accordance with FSC standards, redwood is a clean, recyclable, and renewable resource for decking.

Here’s a breakdown of the LCA comparison findings:

Air Pollution/Carbon Footprint:

  • Redwood trees absorb more carbon than is released during the manufacturing process—growing, harvesting, hauling, and processing.  It continues to store that carbon once it becomes lumber. .
  • Manufacturing 1,000 plastic decks can produce as much carbon as 1,000 cars.

Energy:

  • Redwood trees are grown from natural solar energy from the sun, and the biomass is used to help power the mills.
  • While composite material manufacturing does utilize renewables, recycled plastic requires ten times more energy than redwood to produce decking materials.

Recycling:

  • Lumber from a redwood deck is fully recyclable.
  • Plastic decking is made from recycled materials, but it cannot be recycled or composted at the end of its life cycle due to the combination of natural and industrial materials.

When compared with other woods, redwood also earns the green grade because of its strength and durability.. Grown in one of the world’s healthiest forest systems, redwood is naturally resistant to decay, warping, and shrinking, meaning a well-maintained redwood deck could last a lifetime.

Furthermore, while some exotic or imported hardwoods may seem desirable, choosing certified California redwood ensures responsible forest and wildlife management and reduces the environmental impact of extensive international travel.

If you do choose to go with redwood, spend some more time researching environmentally friendly lumber products and be sure to preserve and protect your deck (and your investment) with a non-toxic, bio based sealant or stain. When it comes to building, we like to say, “Measure twice, cut once” and use only what you need of our precious resources.

For related articles, see:
Environmentally Friendly Decks
FSC Lumber: Available by Popular Demand
Environmentally Friendly Lumber and Panel Products

© 2013 SCGH, LLC.

3 Comments

  1. Karen July 1, 2013
  2. Mia July 26, 2013
  3. Halli August 15, 2013

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