Turn of the century Federal oak dining chair

North American Hardwoods Produce Oxygen; Store Carbon

Healthy hardwood forests are net producers of oxygen, thanks to photosynthesis. Growing trees take carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and separate the carbon and oxygen atoms. Trees use the carbon to grow roots, trunk, branches and leaves (a tree uses 1.47 pounds of carbon dioxide to grow a pound of wood) then return the oxygen to the air (giving off 1.07 pounds of oxygen.) This process reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. How much? An acre of trees can remove about four metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.

So why harvest them? Once a tree stops growing and begins to decay, the process reverses and the tree begins using oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. However, if the tree is harvested and used, its stored carbon is held within the wood for the usable life of that wood product. It is estimated that each year, more than 175 million tons of carbon are stored in products that we use everyday -- tables, chairs, floor to name just a few.

Wood products have a low carbon impact and what is called a low level of embodied energy relative to other building materials. As a raw material, trees use the sun’s energy to grow and develop. And the amount of energy necessary for producing wood products is low compared to other building products made from other materials like steel, aluminum, glass and brick.

In manufacturing we employ advanced technology and responsible manufacturing practices to be sure that that almost nothing goes to waste. Wood scraps and wood processing by-products all have a use:

  • Tree bark becomes mulch and soil conditioners
  • Sawdust is sold for animal bedding or fuels the boilers that operate dry kilns
  • Trimmings are chipped and processed into paper and other products
  • Small wood pieces are processed or finger-jointed into wood components

Finally, an important part of the energy equation is that American hardwood lumber used by U.S. wood products manufacturers save transportation energy. Imported materials — such as bamboo, teak, and mahogany that are grown half-way around the world have a different energy consumption story to tell.