Ending the Battle

I was impressed with a recent article by Robert Cassidy, Editor-in-Chief of Building Design & Construction called End the Battle of FSC vs. SFI Wood in LEED. It captures concisely the inconsistencies the recent draft of LEED 2012 has, as well as the continuous unfair treatment wood receives over other building materials such as cement and steel.

I would like all stakeholders to send their feedback on this second draft of LEED 2012 by September 14th, plus I strongly encourage you to send positive feedback on USGBC’s LEED Pilot Credit 43. This pilot credit for non-structural certified wood products (furniture, flooring, windows) lists SFI, FSC and other forest certification standards equally in a section on ‘pre-approved certifications and labels’.  We would like to keep this positive pilot credit language top of mind.

Pilot Credits are used in USGBC to test drive an idea before making it an official credit in the LEED rating tool.  USGBC refers to pilot credits as “multi-stakeholder market tests” and relies heavily on user input.

We specifically want those commenting on this Pilot Credit 43 to ask that this language be extended into all LEED 2012 rating tools and that this language be extended to also include structural wood products (not just non-structural as is currently the case.) A few examples why we believe Pilot Credit 43 is positive include:

  • This pilot credit means that all of the certified wood in North America and globally is eligible for this credit.
  • Wood is a renewable resource and third party forest certification demonstrates that social, economic and environmental values are being addressed.
  • The ability for specifiers and builders to use and get credit for certified wood across North America makes their job easier and it provides the right signal to the marketplace to maintain the extra effort needed to seek and achieve third party forest certification.
  • With only 10% of the world’s forests certified to any forest certification standard, recognizing all the credible forest certification standards, USGBC is providing market transformation which will drive the demand for more certified lands through this pilot credit.

Again, we encourage you to work with builders and architects to post comments on the LEED User blog and keep this pivotal turning point by the USGBC top of mind.

Below is Robert’s article for you to read.

Building Design & Construction

By Robert Cassidy, Editor-in-Chief
Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Enough already! For the past decade, the USGBC has given the Forest Stewardship Council a monopoly on wood from its forests being used in LEED projects. It’s time for the USGBC to open the door to other wood certification programs.

Consider this: Sixty percent of FSC-certified wood comes from outside the U.S. and Canada. Why does the USGBC encourage the importation of FSC wood from thousands of miles away, when at the same time it offers a credit for using locally produced materials—the so-called “500-mile rule”?

Wouldn’t it be more environmentally beneficial to use locally grown wood, shipped over much shorter distances? Between them, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) have 373 million acres of certified forests. SFI alone has about 80% of the certified woodlands in North America, while FSC has only 18%. Building Teams in the U.S. and Canada are being forced in many cases to go overseas instead of being able to use certified wood from their own backyards.

Here’s another inconsistency: Why doesn’t the USGBC require other building products to “prove” their environmental bona fides to the same extent that it does wood products? Why do steel and glass and ceiling tiles and hundreds of other building products get a pass, while wood has to go through 49 mandatory benchmarks to be considered for use under LEED? Are all these products and materials so environmentally pure?

Take cement, the key ingredient in the manufacture of concrete, without which not a whole lot of building would get done. But did you know that the cement industry produces about 5% of all carbon emissions globally, a fact I was first made aware of by Scot Horst, for years chair of the LEED Steering Committee and now the USGBC’s SVP of LEED?

I would bet that very few of the 130,000 or more LEED Accredited Professionals out there would hesitate to use cement-containing concrete in their LEED projects. But are they aware that, in doing so, they are contributing to global warming, with its deleterious impact on the environment and human health?

I don’t mean to single out the cement and concrete industry, which (at least outside of China and India) is working hard to reduce its emissions. But the question remains: Why isn’t the USGBC devoting the same rigorous attention to other building products that it has so diligently bestowed on wood products?

Green Globes, the U.K.’s BREEAM, Built Green Canada, Japan’s CASBEE, and the ANSI National Green Building Standard recognize SFI and other wood certification standards. Australia’s Green Building Council recently rescinded its FSC-only restriction.

Could it be that the anti-lumber industry lobby within USGBC simply cannot bear the fact that SFI, CSA, and other certifications are just as good as FSC’s?

Click here for the original article: http://www.bdcnetwork.com/end-battle-fsc-vs-sfi-wood-leed


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