Forest Experts in the US and Canada Ask USGBC to Open LEED

Two major North American groups representing forestry experts have weighed in with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) on the LEED standard.  Steven Koehn, president of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), recently wrote a letter to USGBC CEO & Founding Chairman Rick Fedrizzi stating that the revised standard should:

  1. Enhance incentives to recognize wood as a renewable resource and preferred building material
  2. Eliminate criteria that discriminate against wood by not equally and fully considering environmental impacts of alternate materials such as steel and concrete
  3. Enhance incentives to recognize the environmental benefits of locally produced and domestically produced wood over imported wood and substitute materials
  4. Provide incentives to broaden exemplary forestry practices by equally rewarding the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and other credible forest certification systems.

The NASF is comprised of directors of forestry agencies across the U.S. and promotes forest conservation and sustainable forestry.

Additionally, Mr. Fedrizzi has received a letter urging LEED to be more inclusive from the Canadian Institute of Forestry. The organization also put out a press release about the LEED issue. President Anne LeBrun Ruff and Executive Director John F. Pineau state,

Even though Canada has over 40% of the certified land globally, only 10% of the world’s forests are certified. Yet private and some government agencies are still splitting hairs over specific aspects of forest management certification systems. In doing this, the focus on the overall goal of sustainable management is lost. Each standard has a different background and assesses planning and practices in a slightly different way. However, the end result of sustainably managed forests is the same, which leads us to the issue at hand.

They also make the vital point that wood is a smart choice for green building, yet many of its positive aspects are not recognized in the LEED rating system.

I’m pleased that the NASF and Canadian Institute of Forestry have taken a stand on the LEED issue. At SFI, we hope Mr. Fedrizzi and the rest of the USGBC listen to what the rest of the forestry community already knows—an inclusive stance better supports responsible forestry.

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