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The Hidden Cost of Wood Frame Construction

Annual construction waste is expected to reach 2.2 billion tons globally by 2025 according to Transparency Market Research, and here in the US 23% of the national waste stream is estimated to be C&D (Construction & Demolition) type waste. According to the EPA, the US generated over 600 million tons of construction-related waste in 2018, which has increased by 342% from 1990 to 2018.

These are staggering numbers, and unfortunately, most homebuilders fail to consider both the financial and environment impacts when deciding on what building technologies to use. Homebuilders often throw away cut-offs, damaged materials, and often unused/incorrect materials that are left over when the job is complete. We have often seen builders toss entire pallets of pavers, roofing materials, doors, and lumber into the dumpster simply because it was easier than sending it to another job or back to the warehouse. Some builders attempt to recycle; however, it can be difficult to manage the process, or to justify the cost of two separate containers at a job site, or the time it takes to sort the waste.

To help educate and bring more awareness to the impact on our environment building with wood has, we have developed this simple easy to use Calculator which compares the use of wood to light gauge steel. Plug in the numbers of your new home or building to see the comparison.

Steel Vs Wood Calculator
Size of Home/Building in Square Feet (Under Roof) SF
Number of Floors/Levels
Built in WOOD Frame
House - Wood Parameters
Average lumber used in Board Feet (BF) 16,000 BF
Average Plywood Used in Square Feet (SF) 6,000 SF
Trees-To-Lumber Calculation Parameter
Volume - Standing Tree Board Foot (BF)
- Based on 12" DBH @ 2.5 - 16' Logs (Intl 1/4" Rule)
120 BF
Estimated Number of Trees
Lumber Used 134 Trees
Plywood Used 50 Trees
Total Used 184 Trees
Waste (Typical is between 20% and 25%) 37 Trees
Grand Total Trees Used 221 Trees
Built in STEEL Frame
House - LGS Parameters
Amount of Steel (Lbs) 11,000 LBS
Estimated Plywood (Roof Only) 3,600 SF
Trees-To-Lumber Calculation Parameter
Standing Tree Board Foot Volume
- Based on 12" DBH @ 2.5 - 16' Logs (Intl 1/4" Rule)
120 BF
Recycled Autos-To-Steel Calculations
Average LBs Steel - Car 2,500 LBS
Average LBs Steel - SUV 3,000 LBS
Plywood Used 30 Trees
Waste 2 Trees
Grand Total Trees Used 32 Trees
Number of recycled autos 5 CARS
Number of recycled autos 4 SUVs
Net Savings in Trees 298 Trees

Calculation References:

  1. Average pounds of steel per auto (Source: Mayco International)
  2. Wood Weight Calculator (Source:
  3. Average amount of lumber is 2,000 SF house (Source: NAHB/Tripod)
  4. Tree Volume to Board-Foot Calculations (Source: Ohio State University)
  5. Steel LBS/SF conversion factor @ 8.25Lbs (Source: PBS average from actual projects)

We believe there is a better way forward to green building, which is to eliminate as much wood as possible, thus building better, stronger, safer and faster with light gauge steel! Take a look at our KRATOS™ solution and let us know what you think.