Findings from LCA to promote greater use of sustainable tropical timber

According to the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF), a 12-strong group of Netherlands Timber Trade Association (NTTA) members is planning to use the findings of two recent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) projects as the basis of a campaign to promote greater use of sustainable tropical timber.

The campaign will target civil engineers and focus on both sustainable tropical timber’s environmental benefits in relation to climate change mitigation, renewability and low environmental impacts as well as its technical, design and maintenance attributes.

The campaign draws on a 2016 LCA study, backed by the EU Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC), on the use of tropical timber for pile planking. It was commissioned from EY Climate Change and Sustainability Services by the NTTA’s Centrum Hout operation with support from FSC Netherlands.

This study put three sustainable tropical species through LCA, alongside planking in plastic. Timber scored significantly better both in overall impact and carbon performance.

Earlier, the Dutch government commissioned a similar comparative study for pedestrian bridges, measuring the LCA performance of tropical timber versus concrete, steel and reinforced composites. Again, tropical wood came out on top.

The promotion campaign will involve meetings for engineers, and distribution of literature, including fact sheets already prepared on sustainable tropical timber and environmental impact, CO2 reduction and the bio-based and the circular economy.

The pile planking study has also generated literature on total cost of ownership of the product through its life, and a design and calculation guide. There is also an online facility to calculate embodied and lifetime in-use carbon performance of a particular timber application.