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.


Environment & Wildlife

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 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
WoodEnviro Technical Bulletin - Wood Poles and Our Environment
Summary of the science and risks associated with the common wood preservative systems used to treat wood utility poles.
8 pages, 09/99
Green Technical Bulletin - Reducing Greenhouse Gases with Wood Utility Poles
Review of the lower energy requirements associated with wood utility pole products in reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) compared to steel and concrete poles.
8 pages, 10/01
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