With trees, what is sequestered carbon and what is embodied carbon?


Edit: Why was this downvoted? 🙄

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I think perhaps you’re thinking of this in relation to lumber and not trees – it’s usually in stuff like building construction you’ll see these two terms used alongside each other

But sequestered carbon is the amount of carbon that something (i.e. a tree) takes out of the atmosphere and “stores”. Trees, etc grow by doing this – taking carbon (from carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere and turning it into their flesh. Although technically this carbon will eventually end up back in the atmosphere when the tree decays for the time it’s a tree (or something made out of the tree – like lumber) that carbon is stored (i.e. **sequestered**) by that tree


Embodied carbon is the term used to measure the carbon cost of constructing something. So it includes the cost of obtaining the raw materials, processing them, transporting them, the use of machinery during construction, etc, etc, etc (it should include everything involved in construction). It doesn’t include the operational carbon output which is the amount of carbon output by the building (or whatever you’re measuring) once construction is complete.

This is why I was thinking you are thinking about lumber because you can compare these two during construction to calculate the total carbon cost of a construction project

So if you’re building something using wood/lumber as one of your building products than you will have a certain amount of carbon that has been taken out of the atmosphere and will be stored (sequestered) in that building until it is destroyed or decays – but for that time until that happens it’s not contributing to the amount of carbon in the atmospher

But then you can also calculate the embodied carbon cost of construction – which is the amount of carbon that was put out into the atmosphere during construction.

If you compare the two figures that gives you the carbon “cost” of the building. So if you’re sequestering more carbon than you output than you’re actually removing carbon from the atmosphere with that particular building. But if you output more carbon during construction (embodied carbon) than is being stored than you’ve still output carbon into the atmosphere.