SFI and LEED
Ron Wilson from buyalder.com posted a great comment/ question the other day and I thought it deserved its own post – join in on the discussion.
Ron Wilson: Do you feel that there is any chance that the Leed program will not accept SFI certification? Our customers are very concerned about SFI certification losing any value if the Leed system does not move in this direction.
SFI welcomes the work the USGBC is doing. Their work and the inclusive approach they are considering reflects the direction many other green building programs have taken. Examples of these programs that do include a variety of credible certification programs like SFI are the Green Build Initiative’s Green Globes system for commercial building in the US, Green Globes Canada for commercial building in Canada, NAHB’s Green Building Guidelines for residential building in the US, the BRE Environmental Assessment Method for commercial buildings in the UK, and The Code for Sustainable Homes for residential homes in England.
If the USGBC evolves to recognize SFI and other certification programs it would support their position as being among the leaders in the complex, evolving, and critically important world of green building. I am hopeful that through working with USGBC and helping them understand what SFI delivers vis-a-vis other certification programs we will be included. It is too early in the USGBC process to know where SFI will come out because they are still developing their benchmarks against which they will assess the different certification programs. After they develop their benchmarks, the different standards will be assessed and that process will likely not be completed before summer 2009. Once the benchmarks have been developed we will have a better understanding of where SFI fits.
So, am I concerned about SFI’s value changing if LEED doesn’t implement an inclusive approach? Honestly, I believe in the strength of the SFI program – it is one of the largest, fastest growing and most comprehensive forest certification programs in the world. We have grown from 48 chain-of-custody certified locations a year ago to nearly 900 to date. I don’t expect that to change regardless of the outcome of LEED – governments around the world recognize the value of SFI, as do numerous other green building rating systems. (Have a look at our green building fact sheet.)
At the end of the day, certification need not be contentious – there is a lot of room in the green building arena for certified wood products The issue is not which forest certification system is better; they all deliver on key values such as protection of special biological or cultural sites, management strategies to protect species at risk and wildlife habitat, sustainable harvest levels, prompt regeneration, 3rd party accredited certification audits, and public audit reports with corrective actions listed. I think it is in the planet’s best interest if we all focus on the 90% of the world’s forests that are not certified and do not have strong legal frameworks.
While we are on the subject of how certified wood fits in the realm of green building, I’ll end my post with a little food for thought – wood is the only building material that comes with third party certification.