Sustainability assessment of OSB and softwood plywood manufacturing in North America Chan, George
The Canadian wood products industry, including structural panels, is very dependent on the US housing market. Since the US housing crisis in 2006, exports of Canadian wood products to the US significantly dropped annually at a devastating rate. With the growing trend for sustainable construction, the widespread influence of promotions from campaigns such as Wood First and Wood Works and as well as the building standards of the LEED rating system, the demand for wood products is steadily being restored. Amongst the primary construction materials, the manufacturing of structural products of OSB and softwood plywood has slightly higher environmental impact than the manufacturing of lumber due to the drying and pressing processes and the resins used as well. As the demand for structural panels is being slowly created, manufacturers in this industry need to lower the emissions generated from manufacturing to lower environmental impacts. This thesis contrasts and analyzes the emissions and emission control data from the Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Inventory reports for OSB and softwood plywood. In general, between both structural panel products, plywood is the more sustainable product of the two with lower energy utilized and fewer emissions of CO₂, SOx, NOx, VOC and particulate matter generated in the manufacturing process. To further reduce emissions associated with manufacturing of both panel products, the theoretically plausible solution is to combine the use of regenerative thermal oxidizer, which can remove 99% more VOC emissions than that of the wet electrostatic precipitator (NCASI, 1999), with an emissions trading legislature.
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