Green Stars for Australian timber
For the Australian forest and timber industry, producing products that can be used by builders of Green Star sustainably rated buildings makes good economic and environmental sense. A range of certifications may contribute to a building product being recognised by the Green Building Council (GBC) and so be eligible for inclusion in its star ratings system. The development of an Environment Product Declaration (EPD) is one such opportunity to demonstrate the environmental credentials of a product and be included in the certification system.
An EPD is an internationally standardised and verified way of quantifying the environmental impacts of a product based on a consistent set of rules developed through a stakeholder consultation process. These impacts are based on the product’s consumption of raw materials and energy; waste generation; emissions to air, soil and water over its full life cycle (including, for example, its impact on the ozone in the atmosphere and algal blooms in waterways); and its carbon footprint.
The Timber Development Association and sustainability expert thinkstep, with funding from Forest Wood Products Australia (FWPA), have developed industry-wide EPDs for five key Australian wood products. These products are: sawn Australian softwood, Australian hardwood, particleboard, medium density fibreboard and plywood. Information about each EPD and how to use it is on the www.environdec.com and www.woodsolutions.com.au websites.
As these EPDs are industry-wide, rather than product specific, they allow consumers of Australian timber and wood products and producers who are FWPA members of those products to claim a proportion of the available credits under the Green Building Council of Australia Green Star building rating scheme. In order for individual producers to claim the full credits they must publish specific EPDs for their own products.
Having EPDs for these five wood products allows designers to consider them as alternative materials when designing and specifying their buildings so as to create low carbon buildings. In these scenarios timber and engineered wood products excel, both as being low carbon emitters (in fact they lock up carbon) but also economically and structurally sound.
The research demonstrates the ongoing commitment of the Australian timber industry to sustainability and will certainly enhance the development and marketing of more carbon positive timber building products earning more Green Stars into the future.