Underwood: Our first Life Cycle Assessed collection


We are hugely driven by a passion for sustainable design. There are a lot of grey areas around sustainability, and lots of unanswered questions. It's easy to presume that a product might be sustainable, but what does that actually even mean?

We try to simplify things as much as possible, and writing this I acknowledge it's not possible to fully simplify this subject, but we've decided to look specifically at our carbon footprint. Carbon dioxide is one the main greenhouse gases that is attributed to global warming. It seems an impossible and intangible thing to tackle - the amount of invisible gas we're emitting in our daily activities that's gradually altering the climate on our planet. But there are simple steps we can take to help us address it, thanks to some basic science.


We've taken our energy use for each thing we make, and multiplied it by a standard figure for grid electricity, or other fuel source. This process is called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and is, I believe, going to become quite commonplace. LCA is, of course, flawed in that it's so difficult to be entirely accurate - you can always find more carbon. But the figures we give are as accurate as we can possibly make them, and we are showing our working out for scrutiny. We learned a huge amount about this science from working on some pioneering projects within the wood industry. And we've now brought that knowledge into our own workshop - starting with our Underwood collection. 

It's important that we can understand how much carbon we're emitting, and so we're making that information available and transparent for our products. If you want to, you should be able to know that your Hewn Bench has less CO2 than a leg of lamb in its global warming potential. 

I'm measuring my personal carbon footprint for 2015, attempting to keep my total emissions below 10 tonnes of CO2. I've got a budget to work to - and I'd find the whole thing much easier if the things I bought had carbon values on the label, so we're putting our money where our mouth is and offering you the carbon information along with the price and the dimensions. 

I must be very clear about this - we're not scientists, and these aren't scientifically verified results. We're marking our own homework, but we're inviting you to mark it with us. In exchange, we'll share the things we've learned with you. Have a look at our workings out here, and if you'd like a copy of our spreadsheet to work out your own emissions in whatever you do, please drop us an email. We believe in not only contributing to the conversation, but helping to make LCA as open source as possible. Tweet or email us with your feedback to our research.

I'd like to especially thank James at Tyler Hardwoods for his help with this. They are a very forward thinking timber yard and he's been hugely involved in getting accurate values for their timber - a really important part of the process. 

Brogan Cox