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News

Research team to compare environmental performance of building systems

Virginia Polytechnic Institute And State University : 30 March, 2006  (Technical Article)
The head of the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resource
The head of the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resource’s wood science and forest products department professor, Paul Winistorfer, and wood products professor Earl Kline have joined a group of prestigious university professors and wood experts in a landmark research project directed by the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials.

Both Winistorfer and Kline contribute to the Journal of the Society of Wood Science and Technology’s special issue, “CORRIM Reports on Environmental Performance of Wood Building Materials,” which publishes the project’s findings.

Winistorfer stated, “The project’s goal is to identify an environmental footprint of different building materials, essentially developing a scientific analysis of the broad, holistic, cradle-to-grave environmental impact of a building material.” Although the full study involves a comprehensive look at comparisons within different means of building systems, Winistorfer and Kline’s contribution deals with the overall and environmental benefits of wood.

CORRIM’s study has systematically identified factors affecting energy and material use in a wood product’s life cycle from the tree growth stage to wood products manufacturing, use, maintenance, and eventual disposal or recycle. Through a “life cycle analysis” of these important factors across all building materials, wiser choices for construction can be made. “This study could impact the housing infrastructure and global society as a whole,” remarked Winistorfer.

“Ideally, we want to identify the building system that is most appropriate for the product, while minimizing the system’s impact on the global environment,” Winistorfer added.

To further explain the project’s findings and benefits, CORRIM President and overall director of the consortium Bruce Lipke will be visiting Virginia Tech. Lipke, who is also a professor in the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington, will be holding an open forum-style lecture for persons wishing to learn more about the project.

CORRIM was formed in 1996 to document the environmental performance of wood products manufactured in the United States. The organization is comprised of a group of universities and research institutes formed to update and expand a 1976 National Academy of Science’s study on the effects of energy consumption from the use of renewable building materials.

The College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech consistently ranks among the top five programs of its kind in the nation. Faculty members stress both the technical and human elements of natural resources and instill in students a sense of stewardship and land-use ethics. As a land-grant university, Virginia Tech serves the Commonwealth of Virginia in teaching, research, and Extension.
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