The True Cost of Lumber Substitutes

Lumber and building material can be replaced with look-alikes made from non-renewable materials but it may not be wise.

One example, a U.S. National Science Foundation panel analyzed the amount of energy necessary to extract, transport, and convert various raw materials into finished products found that substituting other materials for wood products comes at a higher cost in terms of energy. Koch (1992) estimated that for each 1 cubic meter of wood replaced with manufactured substitutes, energy consumption increases by about 477 liters of oil.

Lippke (1992) noted:

“Logic and maybe even intuition would suggest that using renewable resources rather than nonrenewable resources would better protect the environment.”

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