LCA of selected tropical timber species for pile planking

Utrecht, April 26th 2016, if municipalities, water boards and advisers do not critically examine the environmental impact of materials it can create a lot of environmental damage in civil engineering projects. This is evident from the life cycle analysis (LCA) for sheet piling which the Royal Netherlands Timber Trade Association / Centrum Hout and FSC Netherlands presented today.

Large differences in materials
In addition to the study on selected tropical timber species for pile sheeting EY Climate Change and Sustainability Services executed an exploratory study into the environmental impact of different materials in this application. The starting point is a life cycle of 30 years. The use of certified wood in sheet piles lead to the lowest environmental impact. Compared to wood the use of recycled plastic has a negative environmental impact that is at least 4 times higher, depending on the type of wood chosen. A steel sheet pile wall causes the most environmental damage, up to 140 times as much as a sheet piling of certified wood.

Production phase damaging
Transport causes the largest environmental impacts in the production phase of the construction material. The manufacturing of steel and plastic, including the recycled variant takes a lot of energy. Moreover, pollutants are also released. Both effects are hardly witnessed for certified timber, which therefore also scored favourably in the survey.

CO2 absorption rather than emission
Eric de Munck, VVNH / Centrum Hout: “The results of the recent study confirm the results from an earlier study from 2013 (RvO) for the construction of bicycle bridges. There too certified wood better came out much more favourable than other materials. That’s not surprising. In a well-managed forest there hardly is any environmental damage, on the contrary, a tree evidently absorbes CO2 during growth and thereby contributes to reducing the greenhouse effect”.

Appeal to clients
Liesbeth Gort, Director of FSC Netherlands, is not surprised by the results, but is amazed about the differences: “We already know that sustainable forest management is an effective tool to preserve forests, but also the fact that by selecting the right material many climate gains can be achieved is really surprising. It is important that local authorities, water boards and other clients realize that! ”

The LCA study sheet piling is made possible by the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (European STTC).

For more information, please contact
VVNH/Centrum Hout


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