Protecting the future of forests


Comments on the latest draft of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system are being taken until 5 p.m. Pacific time July 4th, so if you have time between now and then, please leave a comment here.

As we’ve discussed before, the updates to the LEED rating system will have a profound impact on the timber industry’s future. If the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) allows the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to continue its monopoly on LEED-certified building, then the timber industry may cease to exist as we know it. On the other hand, the USGBC still has the ability to allow other forest certification systems, such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) – the largest forest certification standard in the world.

ProSales Magazine this week took a look at how FSC and SFI are reacting to the latest draft changes to the LEED rating system. The gist of the story is, neither side is happy. FSC thinks the changes go too far and allow other forest certifications besides itself, while SFI thinks the changes are small enough that they would still effectively bar any other certifications.

USGBC has felt pressure for years to open up its points system to more than just FSC, and its response has been to propose a set of benchmarks that a wood certification scheme would have to abide by in order to be regarded as eligible. That proposal now is in its fourth draft, and the opposing sides haven’t been satisfied yet.

In the meantime, SFI continues to make its arguments for why the LEED rating system should be opened up to other certifications. Check out this video, for example.