LCA case studies

Wood versus steel, and wood versus concrete, a study of single family homes in the USA

A study by the Athena Institute, Canada, looked at the environmental impacts of wood compared with steel and concrete in single family homes in Minnesota and Atlanta, USA. Results showed considerable benefits for wood construction in both instances, across a range of environmental impacts, including air and water pollution and solid waste.

Environmental impacts of wood house vs steel house
Environmental impacts of wood house vs concrete house
The energy consumption for each phase and life cycle of three types of building

An exploratory study of Energy Use and Environmental Impacts of Wood Frame Structures Relative to Other Structures

A second study compared the environmental impacts of three different construction systems, wood frame, steel frame and concrete frame, using three houses of the same footprint (223m2) and total floor area (607.8m2). To simplify the data, the study considered the impacts of six main building materials within each house: cement, steel, timber, glazing, OSB and I-joists.

From the table it can be clearly seen that the wood frame construction produces the least damage to the ecosystem, and consumes the least resources (except for timber, which is, of course, renewable).

Ecosystem damage and resource consumption