Carbon Storage Quantification

Is there a widely adopted method for carbon storage quantification? I am aware that Aureus Earth is developing methodology, but interested to hear if there’s current methodology in place that firms are using.
For proper LCA methodology, biogenic carbon is reported alongside LCA results. However, the biogenic carbon value would be attributing the full carbon sequestration benefit to the building design, whereas the true benefit is from the carbon storage potential of bio-based products. How do we tell this story quantitatively rather than qualitatively? I realize this is a complex topic, but I’m curious how others are approaching this, when LCA results (depending on end-of-life assumptions) can show timber as a higher impact option when the carbon storage benefits are not accounted for.


@jayarehart have you published your research on this yet?

There’s also the WWF tool that looks at how long the material takes to grow and duration of storage as a product:

And the Upstream tool developed by ZGF (CC: @jacob.dunn) that I believe is currently under incubation by the CLF:

Thanks Luke - do you know why Quantis assumes 70% of a tree makes its way into long lived products when other reports put the figure at 20 - 30%?

hey @will.nash - I’m not familiar with Quantis’ methodology, but I’d reference this table that @jayarehart shared elsewhere on the CLF community. If I look at the baseline assumptions in the WWF tool, a tree would have a rotation period of ~70yrs and assumed life of 50yrs as a building material. From the table, that looks like a GWP100 factor of 10-15% and you’d need to use the material for closer to 100yrs to get up to a factor of 70%

So it’s better to find products that grow quick and last a long time!
Jay – correct me if I’m wrong anywhere :slightly_smiling_face:

I think this probably has some assumptions baked in for sourcing forest model and EoL*

WWF tool excerpt (more plots, figures, and customization possible in the tool!)

Thanks @Luke-Lombardi! Totally simple answer, just as I suspected…

Maybe the simple answer I am seeking warrants a more simple question:
For wbLCA practitioners, do you consider the biogenic carbon value reported by LCA tools to = carbon storage of the wood products used in the building?

The figure there is from Guest et al. (2013). DOI here:

For what it’s worth, I considering using those GWPbio factors for a white paper LCA a few years ago and was told by a mutual friend of Geoffrey (the study’s lead author) and I that he strongly recommended against applying them in analyses beyond the narrow scope of the published model. But the trend you’re indicating (fast growing products with a long dwell time are better) seems generally well-supported.

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I agree with your assumption. I would say the sequestered biogenic carbon in a building is directly related to the volume of wood installed. To put forestry aside for the moment, if the wood product has an EPD, the sequestered carbon would be under module C3/C4.

See Calculating the Carbon Stored in Wood Products - WoodWorks | Wood Products Council
Every cubic foot of Douglas fir-larch stores the equivalent of 55 lb of carbon dioxide!