Yesterday I talked about how giving credit only to FSC-certified wood discriminates against North American wood for LEED projects. Today’s post discusses the widespread support shown by the forest community and government leaders to open the LEED standard.

SFI and FSC are both respected independent, non-profit charitable organizations. Both groups have third-party audits and have equal representation from environmental, social and economic chambers. Both protect endangered species and water quality. Both are promoting responsible forestry. SFI was specifically developed to advance sustainable forestry in North America, while FSC was developed in response to concerns over global deforestation, particularly in the tropics and subtropics.

With similar goals and rigorous certification standards, it doesn’t make sense not to include both standards in the LEED rating system. In fact, LEED should include all credible certification programs including the, the Canadian Standards Association and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. We’re not alone in that thought. Several in the forestry community, as well as government officials, have spoken out:

Larry Selzer, President and CEO, The Conservation Fund (statement March 2010)
“Independent certification of sustainable forest management, such as that provided by the SFI program, is a powerful tool for ensuring these forests are managed well, and it is long past due for certification programs such as the USGBC to recognize the value of the SFI and its peers. The Conservation Fund has been involved in the SFI Program since its inception because we see the incredibly positive results on the ground – and we believe consumers increasingly are recognizing the power of SFI to drive good conservation in our nation’s private forests.”

Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, Chair Kathy Dunderdale (Dec. 2, 2009 letter to USGBC)
“The draft benchmarks recently circulated for comment are so detailed and prescriptive that they would likely exclude most credible forest certification programs – even including several regional, national or interim FSC standards currently recognized in LEED … The environmentally preferable, as well as administratively more manageable, solution is for the USGBC to recognize all credible forest certification programs, namely the Canadian Standards Association Z809 standard, the Forest Stewardship Council, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and national standards around the world independently endorsed by the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.”

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (Feb. 16, 2010 letter to USGBC)
“Recognizing only FSC-certified wood in the LEED benchmarks will result in discrimination against wood products derived from well-managed lands in green building projects. The USGBC should fairly assess and include all credible forest certification programs, including SFI and ATFS systems.

I urge you to quickly make a board decision to recognize well-managed wood from Minnesota and all credible forest certification programs. In doing so, USGBC can join other government agencies and green building rating programs in recognizing wood as an environmentally friendly building material.”

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire (Oct. 2, 2008 letter to USGBC)
“By recognizing internationally endorsed certification systems, the proposed changes in USGBC policy have the potential to include forest products from more than 800 certified family forest owners in our state. Many more small forest parcels can be included as certification systems bring more lands under recognized sustainable management practices. Forest products from 4.8 million acres of third party audited state and industrial forestlands also have the opportunity to be included for LEED rating points under proposed changes in USGBC policy.”

Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln (April 16, 2010)
“I appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Green Building Council to promote energy efficiency and environmental conservation in building design and construction. I have been disappointed to learn, however, that the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system discriminates against wood products produced in our own backyard and prohibits the two largest sustainable forest certification program in the U.S. – the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) – from gaining credit by recognizing only Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood.”

As you may have seen, the National Association of State Foresters and Canadian Institute of Forestry have also shown their support with letters to the USGBC.

We’re grateful that these and other leaders see a strong value to including SFI and other third-party certification systems in the LEED rating system. You can find a broader list of supporting statements on our website. Additionally, we’ve gotten extensive support in the way of signatures and comments on the petition to open LEED. I’ll share some of these comments in tomorrow’s post. And as always, find the latest information regarding the LEED issue on our website.


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