New site delves deeply into SFI vs. FSC


The Tyee, a Canadian online news magazine, ran a 5-part series this week on the SFI vs. FSC forestry certification debate. The series provides a lot of detail about the claims by both sides, as well as what the debate may mean for the future of the forestry and green building industries.

To recap, most of the fighting lately has to do with the U.S. Green Building Council’s proposed changes to what kind of wood it’s going to allow as part of its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards.

The Tyee may be based in British Columbia, but the series does a good job of demonstrating just how important this fight is for both sides across North America.

Part 1: Overview

Part 2: The FTC complaint against SFI

Part 3: The IRS complaint against SFI

Part 4: The FTC complaint against FSC

Part 5: What it all means for the future

FSC is worried that the Green Building Council is going to make the standards too loose, allow other wood certifications and in turn, loosen FSC’s monopoly on LEED. SFI, meanwhile, is worried that the Green Building Council is going to keep the standards too strict and keep rival certifications out.

The stakes couldn’t be higher because LEED building standards are the future of the industry, as Part 1 of the series points out:

Green building grew slowly. Years passed before LEED certified its first buildings. But today there are 4,890 LEED-certified buildings and more than 27,359 LEED-registered projects, comprising more than 8.8 billion square feet of construction.

Likewise, while green building represented just two per cent of the construction market in 2005, it is projected to grow to a quarter of all commercial and institutional building starts and 20 per cent of the value of residential starts by 2013.

That adds up to a U.S. green building sector soon be worth more than $80 billion a year.