SFI Blog: Why USGBC Should Recognize SFI – Beyond Green Construction; Why Papermakers Should Pay Attention

Read the latest blog post on goodforforests.com.

Guest Blogger:
Dr. Laura M. Thompson
Director, Technical Marketing and Sustainable Development
Sappi Fine Paper, North America

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is asking for comments on the draft language for its LEED rating system. SFI Inc. has invited views on the treatment of third-party forest certification, which must be “FSC or better” according to the latest USGBC credit language. In this post, Laura Thompson, Director of Technical Marketing and Sustainable Development for Sappi Fine Paper, North America, talks about the benefits of inclusive policies. Follow her through her blog The Environmental Quotient or on Twitter at @eQLauraThompson.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has developed one of the leading rating tools for design, construction, operations and maintenance of buildings. Their LEED rating tool is built upon a point system based on a breadth of criteria for energy and environmental design. One criteria addresses sourcing wood from certified forests. Within LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance, points are awarded for procurement of consumables (e.g. envelopes, tissue products, and copy paper) that are FSC certified. In a recent update to their rating tool, USGBC has indicated that points for certified wood would be awarded for products that are “FSC or better.” This designation has caused quite a stir amongst many stakeholders.

Sappi has long expressed support for inclusive policies that recognize the world’s leading forest management standards including the Canadian Standards Association, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). With 90% of the world’s forests not certified to reputable standards, we need to spend our collective energy to expand certification and protect against deforestation rather than getting in the weeds over some of the details of which standard is best (or in this case “better”). It is clear that the principles of both SFI and FSC are quite similar and both promote responsible forestry across a range of social, economic and environmental issues. To quote from a review by Dovetail Partners: “Significant changes have occurred within the major certification programs in recent years, and, … it is increasingly difficult to differentiate between certification systems in North America.”