Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials
The Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (CORRIM) was created as a not-for-profit consortium by 15 research institutions to update and expand a 1976 report by the National Academy of Sciences on the impacts of producing and using renewable materials.The original report focused on energy impacts.
Since then, a variety of environmental issues and energy-related concerns have surfaced, but little scientific or quantifiable information has been gathered. Without a scientifically sound database of environmental and economic impacts associated with using renewable materials, it is difficult for policymakers to make informed decisions affecting the forestry and wood manufacturing industries. Moreover, individual industries, including those that use wood as a raw material, have little information to provide a basis for strategic planning and investments to improve their environmental stewardship.
The new CORRIM report provides a database of information for quantifying environmental impacts and economic costs of wood building materials through the stages of tree planting, growing, product manufacturing, building construction, and its operational use and demolition. Comparisons between several wood and non-wood materials used in home construction are assessed, showing generally that wood framing is more environmentally friendly than steel or concrete and that many opportunities exist for improved performance.
Future research is planned to provide a component-by-component assessment of environmental impacts to assist in making building design changes that can improve performance. The geographic and product coverage will be expanded along with a broader range of building designs in order to identify more opportunities for improved performance.
Using wood in more applications that substitute for fossil-intensive products can substantially improve environmental performance. Wood offers unique opportunities to store carbon in the forest, products, and substitution (avoided fossil intensive products), while also supporting other ecological services such as clean water, clean air, habitat, and recreation.