Carbon dioxide balance of wood substitution: Comparing concrete- and wood-framed buildings

Leif Gustavsson (Corresponding Author), Kim Pingoud, Roger Sathre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

272 Citations (Scopus)


In this study a method is suggested to compare the net carbon dioxide (CO2) emission from the construction of concrete- and wood-framed buildings. The method is then applied to two buildings in Sweden and Finland constructed with wood frames, compared with functionally equivalent buildings constructed with concrete frames. Carbon accounting includes: emissions due to fossil fuel use in the production of building materials; the replacement of fossil fuels by biomass residues from logging, wood processing, construction and demolition; carbon stock changes in forests and buildings; and cement process reactions. The results show that wood-framed construction requires less energy, and emits less CO2 to the atmosphere, than concrete-framed construction. The lifecycle emission difference between the wood- and concrete-framed buildings ranges from 30 to 130 kg C per m2 of floor area. Hence, a net reduction of CO2 emission can be obtained by increasing the proportion of wood-based building materials, relative to concrete materials. The benefits would be greatest if the biomass residues resulting from the production of the wood building materials were fully used in energy supply systems. The carbon mitigation efficiency, expressed in terms of biomass used per unit of reduced carbon emission, is considerably better if the wood is used to replace concrete building material than if the wood is used directly as biofuel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-691
JournalMitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • biofuels
  • biomass
  • building materials
  • carbon dioxide
  • concrete
  • forest industry
  • greenhouse gases
  • greenhouse gas balance
  • wood


Dive into the research topics of 'Carbon dioxide balance of wood substitution: Comparing concrete- and wood-framed buildings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this