USGBC extends deadline for comment on LEED standards


The U.S. Green Building Council has extended the deadline for public comment for its new draft LEED standards from March 20 to March 27. This gives supporters of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) another week to let the Green Building Council know why it should open up its LEED standards to other forest certifications besides the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Go here to comment by March 27.

Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI, said she isn’t surprised that the Green Building Council extended the deadline.

We received many thoughtful submissions when we opened up the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s Good for Forests blog, and I suspect USGBC is receiving plenty of comments as well. For good reason. There are still more questions than answers on proposed requirements, such as the “FSC or Better” language for the certified wood credit and changes to the local sourcing.

SFI has done a great job of laying out the reasons why the building council should open up its standards, as we wrote about here. On the SFI blog, Good for Forests, experts have been weighing in this month on why the USGBC should recognize SFI and why SFI is a better certification system than FSC.

Here is a blog excerpt from Dr. Laura M. Thompson, Director, Technical Marketing and Sustainable Development for Sappi Fine Paper North America, based in Boston.

Sappi, like most paper suppliers, sources wood and fiber from multiple sources, certified and uncertified. In fact, it is possible to have a product that is labeled as FSC certified, but actually contains more fiber from SFI sources and yet USGBC is saying they will only recognize it when it is called FSC certified. The exclusion of SFI is based on a lack of understanding of complex supply chains and, in some ways, is a discrimination against labeling practices. The paper has both types of fiber in it and yet only one label can be granted points according to USGBC’s latest language.

Comments from Michael T. Goergen Jr., Executive Vice-President and CEO, Society of American Foresters:

The U.S. Green Building Council is out of step with green building councils in other countries who understand the value of promoting all credible forest certification standards. As a result, LEED risks discouraging the use of forest products from well-managed forests, one of North America’s greatest natural resources and an excellent choice for green building. Forest products should receive recognition in green building systems regardless of certification, and should receive extra credit if they are certified to one of the widely accepted North American standards.