AHEC Announces Major LCA Study For American Hardwoods

Probably the largest ever study providing cradle to grave environmental information including carbon footprint in the international hardwood sector

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has commissioned what will probably be the largest Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study ever undertaken in the international hardwood sector.  Leading LCA consultants thinkstep AG (www.thinkstep.com) will undertake the Study which will conform to the ISO 14000 series of standards relating to LCA and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). It will also include an assessment of the carbon footprint of American hardwoods as a discrete component.

For David Venables, European Director of AHEC (www.americanhardwood.org) the decision to invest in this new Study is hugely significant for the industry and vital for its future competitive edge in export markets, in a world where green specification is increasingly informed by a science-based approach. He says: “This is a massive undertaking in both financial and logistical terms because the Study will encompass a wide range of operations and processes. Data collection will be needed from a variety of sectors, supply chain elements and geographical regions. What we want from this Study is comprehensive and independently assessed and verified information about the environmental impacts of the processes used to extract, produce and dispose of American hardwood products.”

The Study will compile Life Cycle Inventory data for sawn lumber and veneers of the main internationally traded American hardwood species. The information will cover environmental impacts of all processes from point of extraction through to delivery to the importers yard in Europe and in East Asia. A key aim of the study is to enable manufacturers of joinery, flooring and furniture products that rely on American hardwoods to prepare formal EPDs in line with international standards.

EPDs are widely recognised as the most effective method of communicating the full environmental profile of any given product or material. Green building initiatives like BREEAM (UK and International), LEED (U.S. and International), DGNB (Germany), HQE (France), and CASBEE (Japan) are becoming more dependent on EPDs to provide credible and comparative information on the environmental performance of materials used in the building sector.

“This new Study will not only supply the data needed for our customers to make an informed choice but it will also be crucial in identifying environmental “hotspots” - those processes with significant environmental impacts - where we can the implement target-led programmes to improve performance” says David Venables.

The initial consultation and planning with thinkstep AG and leaders of the American hardwood industry is scheduled to take place in Washington DC in mid September 2010 and the project will continue through 2011.

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Note to Editors: American Hardwood Export Council

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is the leading international trade association for the US hardwood industry, representing the committed exporters among US hardwood companies and all the major US hardwood production trade associations. AHEC concentrates its efforts on providing architects, designers and end-users with technical information on the range of species, products and sources of supply.
Web-site: www.americanhardwood.org

thinkstep AG is the international market leader in strategic consultancy, software solutions and extensive services in the field of sustainability. thinkstep AG has completed more than 110 Environmental Product Declarations and guaranties highest quality due to an internal EPD-quality management and a standardized approach. thinkstep AG provides decision-making aid for sustainable product development with customized tools based on the leading LCA software GaBi.
Web-site: www.thinkstep.com

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) – referred to in ISO standards as a Type III environmental declaration - includes information supplied to both industrial and private consumers. It provides quantified environmental product information for the entire life cycle of a product, issued by a supplier. It is based on independently verified, systematic data and is presented as parameters in a set of categories describing the environmental performance of the product or the service. It is relevant to all products and presents the information in a format that facilitates comparison between products. ISO 14025:2006 establishes the principles and specifies the procedures for developing Type III environmental declaration programmes and Type III environmental declarations.