LEED Retains Status Quo of FSC Only

As you know, there’s been a lot of back and forth between wood certification bodies, stakeholders, and the USGBC relating to the certified wood credit applicable all commercial LEED rating systems.  The debate was documented in a five-part series in The Tyee recently, and led to the creation of the Forest Certification Benchmark.

First, a little background.  For applicable LEED rating systems, the wood credit is FSC only, meaning to obtain the credit, 50% of wood-based materials and products must be FSC certified.*  In other words, a project can use non-FSC wood products but will lose the credit if unable to meet the minimum.

Forest Certification Benchmark was created through an elaborate consensus and public comment process.  In short, it provided a guidance path for all wood certification programs – whether FSC, SFI, or otherwise – wanting to be included in LEED.

SFI* didn’t like the Forest Certification Benchmark and complained that the benchmark was “complicated” and not a “workable solution.”  FSC didn’t like the benchmark because they wanted a more rigorous and comprehensive prerequisite.

When put on the USGBC member ballot, the Forest Certification Benchmark didn’t pass with the required two-thirds vote of approval.  Specifically, of those allowed to vote, about 55% voted in approval, 42% voted to reject, and 3% abstained, according to EcoHome Magazine.

Which means there will be no change to the certified wood credit — LEED remains FSC only.  In response, Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of SFI, Inc., encouraged the building community to skip the certified wood credit and use SFI-certified products in LEED projects, according to a statement on SFI’s website.

Taryn Holowka, LEED AP and Director of Marketing & Communications for the USGBC, told us in the email that the next step is to continue this discussion through the public comment process underway for the next development cycle of LEED.

*FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council.
*SFI stands for Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Credit: Coastal Treated Products Company.


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