An EPD indicates the environmental impact of sawn timber and caters to construction needs

Koskisen’s sawn timber and further-processed products have been granted an EDP (Environmental Product Declaration), which indicates the environmental impact of sawn timber per produced cubic metre throughout the product’s life cycle. Commissioned by the Finnish Sawmills Association, the EPD was calculated based on the average of eight sawmill industry operators, one of which was Koskisen. The calculation was carried out by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

The data from the EPDs of construction products is used, for example, for calculating the environmental impact of buildings. The EDP enables Koskisen to prepare for the calculation and regulation of the carbon footprint of buildings, which is being prepared by the Ministry of the Environment and is expected to enter into force during 2025.

Karoliina Koskinen, who works as Business Controller at Koskisen, has been closely involved in the EDP project. According to her, more and more customers are becoming aware of the EDPs.

“Our Finnish customers at least have already asked us about this data. Our customers can use the data in their own carbon footprint calculations.”

The carbon handprint reduces the carbon footprint

According to the Federation of the Finnish Woodworking Industries, the carbon footprint of a building consists of the manufacture of construction materials, transportation, worksite operations, maintenance and repairs, the replacement of materials, energy and water consumption and the demolition of the building and the end-of-life processing of construction materials.

A considerable part of a building’s life cycle carbon footprint comes from the construction materials already during the construction stage, and the proportion of construction in society’s carbon footprint is significant; construction and buildings are responsible for half of the consumption of materials and energy in the EU, and they represent a third of the water consumption and the waste generated.

However, the use of wood as a construction material helps reduce the carbon footprint by generating a carbon handprint. Governments, companies, associations and individuals alike can create a carbon handprint. When, for example, a company creates a carbon handprint for its customer, the customer can reduce its carbon footprint. The carbon footprint of sawn timber is small, and the carbon handprint reduces it even further.

Koskinen clarifies that the carbon handprint includes the climate benefits, i.e. the emission reduction potential, of a product, process or service for the user. The fossil carbon footprint of sawn timber, 30.2 kg CO2e, is mainly made up of the use of fossil fuels in the production chain, for example for transportation. The carbon handprint of sawn timber is 573 kg CO2e, representing the amount of carbon sequestered by sawn timber, which acts as a carbon sink.

“In addition, wood is a renewable material, which makes it by default more sustainable compared to non-renewable materials, as long as forest regeneration is taken care of.”

INFO (source: Federation of the Finnish Woodworking Industries)

Carbon footprint

Carbon footprint is the burden on the climate caused by a product, activity or service, meaning the amount of greenhouse gases generated and emitted into the air during the lifetime of the product or activity. A product’s carbon footprint is expressed in units of weight per the unit of measurement usually used for the product.

Usually, the carbon footprint is expressed as the total amount of greenhouse gases, i.e. carbon dioxide equivalents, sometimes as just the amount of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide emissions represent 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon handprint

Carbon handprint is the beneficial impact of a product or service on reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The term is not standardised, however, meaning that it can be used to refer to slightly different things. In any case, it is always a positive factor.

According to VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland’s definition, carbon handprint refers to the benefit offered by a company to its customer by supplying products and services that allow the customer to reduce its carbon footprint. By replacing a baseline product with the offered product, the customer reduces its carbon footprint, and that reduction is the carbon handprint.