Wood Poles and the Environment


When it comes to the environment, wood utility poles are much kinder to our planet than other materials. That's an important consideration in planning our electrical system for future generations.

Independent, science-based life cycle assessments, or LCAs, confirm that preserved wood utility poles use less energy and resources, offset fossil fuel use and have a reduced environmental impact when compared to concrete, steel and fiber-reinforced composite utility poles.

Wood poles are made from a plentiful and renewable resource grown on managed timberlands. Growing trees produces oxygen and when converted into a product, wood stores carbon. Wood poles also help limit the accumulation of greenhouse gases.

Used poles are recyclable in a variety of applications. Plus, due to the insulating properties of wood, eagles, ospreys and other large birds are able to perch on wood crossarms without danger of electrocution.

See how the environmental impacts compare between wood and other materials under internationally accepted scientific assessments. Also learn about mitigating issues with birds and other wildlife who may perch on wood poles and crossarms.


TB_Carbon NEW! Tech Bulletin - Calculating Carbon in Wood Utility Poles and Crossarms
Review of how to calculate the amount of carbon sequestered in a utility's inventory of wood utility poles and crossarms.The calculations take into account of the volume and mass of the wood, as well as the mass of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere while the wood is in service For use with Excel-based Wood Utility Pole & Crossarm Calculator available below.
8 pages, 07/20
CarbonCalc NEW! Wood Utility Pole & Crossarm Calculator
Excel spreadsheet that calculates the volume and mass of the wood, as well as the mass of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere for a utility's inventory of wood utility poles and crossarms. Includes links to online EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator that can convert carbon data into real world examples of the environmental benefits.
ZIP file (85KB), 07/20
PoleEnviro NEW! Technical Bulletin - Preserved Wood Utility Poles and the Environment
Overview of current studies on the amounts and minimal impacts of preservatives in wood utility poles migrating into the surrounding environment.
12 pages, 02/20
WhatsLCA What is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?
Review of the elements needed for a proper, science-based life cycle assessment on products such as utility poles.
3 pages, 09/11
PoleLCA Summary Report on LCA of Penta-Treated Utility Poles
Conclusions and summary of an LCA on Penta-treated wood poles vs. steel and concrete.
6 pages, 03/12

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PoleLCA2 Summary Report on LCA of CCA-Treated Utility Poles
Conclusions and summary of an LCA on CCA-treated wood poles vs. steel, concrete and fiber-reinforced composite poles.
6 pages, 03/13
Bird Technical Bulletin - Raptor Electrocutions and Distribution Pole Types
Review of pole material choices and design elements to mitigate raptor electrocutions, minimizing the potential fines levied by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.
20 pages, 10/00
Best Management Practices UPDATED! Specifiers Guide - Best Management Practices
Overview of the industry's Best Management Practices (BMP) program and guidelines for specifiers to ensure BMP-compliant preserved wood products are produced and installed in a manner which minimizes any potential for adverse impacts to aquatic environments.
16 pages, 12/17
Aqua Treated Wood in Aquatic Environments
Specification and environmental guide for selecting, installing and managing wood preservation systems in aquatic and wetland environments.
36 pages, 12/12
Impacts Carbon Impacts of Wood
A U.S. Forest Products Laboratory overview of calculating the carbon footprint of wood products.
4 pages, 01/13