Last week, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) released for public comment a fourth round of draft benchmarks to evaluate forest certification programs in the LEED green building rating system.
The LEED green building rating system gives points to builders who use sustainably grown and harvested wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
As an ATFS certified forest owner, I'm in favor of USGBC recognizing more standards, rather than exclusively FSC. Eastside Washington mills use ATFS, not FSC. The USGBC decision limits the market for green-building materials from central and eastern Washington state.
If adopted, the benchmarks would result in continued exclusion of independent forest certification standards in widespread use in North America, including the world’s largest certification standard, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. The bottom line is that three quarters of the certified fiber in North America may not be recognized by LEED’s certified wood credit.
Tom Martin, President & CEO of the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and parent organization of the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), wrote: "After almost 10 years of discussion with the forest community, USGBC continues to discourage the use of wood products in green buildings, and perpetuates their preference against wood products from family-owned forests certified by ATFS. Even though USGBC claims they are developing benchmarks to open up their green building standards to more certified wood products, all you need to do is look at the benchmarks to see that they continue to skew their standards toward one wood certification only."
Nine U.S. governors have written letters and more than 5,700 forestry experts, architects and builders have signed a petition.
SFI has a short video about green building and forest certification, at http://sfiprogram.org/leed.
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