Friday, September 7, 2012

Cutting wooden flooring’s carbon footprint

Does a Wooden Floor have a carbon footprint? Well, according to new legislation from Europe it does, and it’s an issue climate change organisations feel should be addressed across the globe, and quickly.

In a move that is being fully supported by wooden flooring companies with a strong ethical policy, The European Commission has considered and discussed the inclusion of harvested wood products in the EU’s list of climate change commitments.

This basically means that the Commission’s Environment Committed wants to add harvested wood products to their accounting rules to calculate a country’s greenhouse gas emissions, and to set new targets for reduction. This is the first time that harvested wood has been included in the debate, but it is obvious that any industry needs to be part of the calculations for a country’s carbon emission levels, even one that is supposedly as ‘green’ as forestry. When you consider the amount of heavy machinery that is required for the harvesting of timber (machinery that runs on fossil fuels and produces a high amount of emissions), it seems strange that the industry has until now been excluded from the calculations.

Checks and balances

However, it is a case of checks and balances with forestry, as the trees themselves absorb carbon dioxide whilst they are growing, and produce oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis. But do the two balance out, and what does it mean to the environmental policies of the future? And how could it affect your wooden flooring?

Forestry has a major role to play in the fight against climate change, and timber production has to be a vital part of any low carbon economy. Production methods may need to change to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by timber mills, and this in turn will make timber flooring an even ‘greener’ choice for homeowners. 

Making an ethical choice

But even before the EU has ratified this new legislation, homeowners can play an important role in the fight against greenhouse gasses by making an ethical choice when it comes to their wooden flooring. Suppliers are acutely aware of the issues surrounding the supply of ethically sourced timber flooring from sustainable forests, and that customers are far more concerned as to exactly where their wooden flooring comes from than ever before. Homeowners who want to make sure that their flooring is coming from a truly ‘green’ source should look for companies with accreditation from organisations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). If in doubt – ask!

A greener future for timber flooring?

The proposal still needs to be ratified by both the European Parliament and the European Council. But successful implementation could eventually lead to EU member states being forced to include the new accounting rules in their wider climate change mitigation strategies. It could also play a considerable role in helping countries to develop incentive schemes that will promote timber production as a viable business option and as a sustainable industry.

It is a technically very complex issue that will need careful consideration, but for homeowners and businesses looking to replace or renew wooden flooring, it means that we are all doing our bit to reduce the impact on the environment of greenhouse gasses. Choosing timber flooring that has been cut from sustainable sources ensures the health of both the timber industry and the planet. We cannot continue to exploit unsustainable sources, not just for the sake of the local wildlife, but also for the sake of the planet itself.

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