LP Leans Into “Carbon Negative” with 3rd-Party Validated Products
The company shared operational, transportation, and material sourcing data to hit below-zero CO2 pollution benchmarks.
Sometimes companies have a lot of good work going on behind the scenes on sustainability. LP Building Solutions just surprised the industry by announcing that it now has a substantial “carbon negative” portfolio.
What this announcement suggests is that some building products can more than account for the CO2 pollution released in their manufacture. LP demonstrated this through the combination of carefully constructed Life Cycle Assessments and Environmental Product Declarations.
If you want to dive deeper into what was measured and how, I suggest you read LP’s EPD document about its SmartSide Trim & Siding. This EPD process is key to understanding the company’s thorough approach.
Achieving a carbon negative score is multi-phased. It requires minimizing waste in the production and harvesting process, but also getting very proactive about where and how the lumber is grown and transported. The carbon capture “device” that pushes the products into the negative range is the tree itself.
Carefully managed trees, according to LP and ASTM, actually grab more carbon while growing than the entire “cradle to gate” process releases. Presumably, the wood holds on to that carbon as well, because for the most part, it’s being used in a durable manner, turned into building products, not burned for energy.
LP approached their EPDs the right way, with third-party verification. ASTM International has just validated five of the company’s Structural Solutions products as carbon negative, and they’re solid brands you may recognize, or already be using. Here’s a quick summary of what this means for building pros and homebuyers:
Floor to Roof Possibilities. The products currently verified as carbon-negative form some of the most basic building blocks of a new home or major renovation. They include LP TechShield Radiant Barrier, LP WeatherLogic Air & Water Barrier, LP Legacy Premium Sub-Flooring, LP FlameBlock Fire-Rated Sheathing, and LP TopNotch 350 Durable Sub-Flooring. What that portfolio gives you is the ability to introduce carbon negative products repeatedly during the typical building process.
Green Building Certification. These products also can help achieve higher ratings within green building certification programs like LEED and the WELL Building Standard. For example, here’s how they might be applied:
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
- Materials & Resources: LEED has a credit category focused on sustainable material selection. Carbon-negative products could contribute to earning points in this category.
- Energy & Atmosphere: Carbon-negative products could help in reducing the overall carbon footprint of the building, contributing to points in this category.
- Innovation: Unique and groundbreaking approaches to sustainability, like using carbon-negative products, could earn Innovation in Design or Innovation in Operations credits.
WELL Building Standard
- Air Quality: Carbon-negative materials could contribute to improved indoor air quality by reducing the amount of carbon-based pollutants, thereby earning points in this category.
- Materials: WELL also focuses on material health and sustainability. Carbon-negative products could contribute to points in this category.
- Innovation: Similar to LEED, WELL also rewards innovative practices. Using carbon-negative products could be considered an innovative approach to building sustainability.
Common Criteria Across Both Standards
- Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): Both LEED and WELL encourage the use of products that have undergone LCAs. LP's carbon-negative products, which have been validated by ASTM International, could be advantageous here.
- Transparency: The availability of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for LP's products could satisfy the transparency requirements of both LEED and WELL.
- Sustainable Sourcing: Both standards reward the use of sustainably sourced materials.
Eco-Friendly Marketing: With increasing consumer awareness about climate change, builders using these products can appeal to Millennial and Gen-Z buyers especially, with a message of pro-active building materials that will not worsen the impacts of the Climate Crisis.
Raising the Manufacturing Bar
Not every product in a home will be able to achieve a carbon-negative footprint. LP has an advantage, in that many of its products are rooted in sustainable forestry. It’s hard to imagine, for example, a concrete foundation or steel frame or granite countertop that can claim to be storing more CO2 over its lifespan than it releases in production.
But what LP has done, to its credit, is set a high bar that to which other companies can look for insights and inspiration. Some of their processes are replicable, no matter what the product type. For example:
Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs): LP developed LCAs and EPDs for each product, before submitting them to ASTM for validation and consideration.
Zero Waste: LP has long been committed to using renewable resources, and that commitment has paid off. But they don’t just “use” trees. They make sure every fiber they harvest is put to some kind of use. There’s almost no waste at any of their plants.
It’s clear that LP has not been a passive player when it comes to research. They have spent years and assumedly a great deal of money not only to fine tune their operations, but to keep a record of their actions, and be able to tell the story.
In short, their recent announcement doesn’t just affect their bottom line; it changes how they talk about construction and sustainability. And you can bet they won’t be shy about telling you how they’re leading the industry in transparency and genuine concern about their environmental legacy.