Carbon Calculator

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A downloadable Excel-based version of this calculator and a Technical Bulletin explaining the carbon calculations are also available. Go to the Online Technical Library to download.

Wood Utility Pole & Crossarm Carbon Calculator

The Wood Utility Pole & Crossarm Carbon Calculator is intended to assist utility providers in calculating the amount of carbon sequestered in their inventory of wood poles and crossarms, as well as the carbon dioxide (CO2) removed from the atmosphere while wood poles and crossarms are in service.

Calculations are made utilizing common or representative pole class/length groups and the actual dimensions of the common or representative crossarms used by a utility. Once entered, the Carbon Calculator estimates the volume of wood, mass of wood, stored carbon in the wood, and mass of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere while the wood is in service within overhead structures.

This calculator is also available as an Excel-based utility. Download it from the Online Technical Library

Entering Pole, Crossarm Data

In the Carbon Calculator below, enter the utility poles by the major classes, lengths and number of poles of that class and length. Use the pull-down menus to select the appropriate class and length, per the ANSI standards.

Classes and lengths are standardized by ANSI to provide equal load capacity, independent of wood pole species. The pole classes and length are from the American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) Book of Standards Tables 4 and 5.

Wood is typically approximately 50% carbon, on a dry weight basis. Wood from Southern Pine timber is typically approximately 31.7 pounds per cubic feet dry weight density. For the purpose of these calculations, this Southern Pine density is assumed for all wood. Any differences with Douglas fir poles are accounted for by the slightly larger sizes as defined in the ANSI standards. Thus, assuming all poles have the same density introduces no significant error.

Crossarm volumes are calculated from the actual dimensions. Use the decimal equivalents in entering dimensions (i.e. 1/2 inch = 0.5 inch).

Pole, Crossarm Carbon Calculations

Wood Poles Calculation
of Poles
ea. (ft3)
MCF Total
Totals for Poles 0 poles 0.00
Select Pole Class and Length by pull down. Enter the number of poles.
Note: MCF is 1,000 cubic feet
Wood Crossarm Calculation
No. of
ea. (ft3)
MCF Total
Totals for crossarms 0 crossarms 0.00
Enter actual dimensions of crossarms in digital equivalents (1/2 in. = 0.5 in.)
Note: MCF is 1,000 cubic feet
Carbon Sequestration Calculation and Summary
Total Volume of Wood in Poles and Crossarms 0 MCF wood
Mass of Wood 0 tons of wood
Mass of Carbon 0 tons of carbon
Mass of Carbon (metric) 0 tonnes of C
Mass of Carbon Dioxide (metric) 0 tonnes of CO2

Converting carbon data into real world examples

To convert the carbon data into real world examples, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) provides an online Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator that can assess the amount of carbon sequestered in wood poles and crossarms.

The EPA calculator uses metric tonnes of carbon. Copy the numbers from either the Mass of Carbon (metric) or the Mass of Carbon Dioxide (metric) from the Carbon Sequestration section above. Paste the number into the appropriate blank in the If You Have Emissions Data section of the EPA calculator.

The calculator will provide real world equivalents of the carbon data, such as passenger vehicles driven in one year, miles driven by an average vehicle or the number of homes' electricity use in one year. These equivalents can be useful in explaining the environmental benefits of the carbon sequestered in wood poles and crossarms.

Click here for more information on the EPA calculator.