Researchers at an Austrian University have carried out the first global assessment of carbon stocks in long life products such as buildings and furniture.

Christian Lauk at Klagenfurt University found that global stocks have increased from 2.3GtC in 1900 to 11.5GtC in 2008. Current annual product sequestration stands at about 250mtC; equivalent to some 3% of global emissions or greater that the UK’s total annual CO2 emissions. Wood products are by far the biggest store representing nearly 70% of the total.

About 50% of the dry mass of wood is pure carbon – this means that a cross laminated timber school can lock in about 2000t or 200kg/m2 of CO2. When the timber school reaches the end of its useful life let’s hope that society re-uses or re-cycles it, keeping the carbon locked up.

The research paper can be seen here.

Images courtesy of Alpen Adria University