Idaho Governor Says Open LEED

Coming off the heels of the USGBC Federal Summit, we’re as excited as ever to raise awareness of SFI and the program’s role in green building. We continue to garner support for changes to LEED, and government officials continue to back our stance. Last week, Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter wrote a letter to the USGBC discussing the benefits of opening LEED.

The governor states that under the LEED rating system, “bamboo from China and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood from Russia and Brazil would be certified, whereas only some of Idaho’s wood would be certified.”

We agree with his point—when the LEED rating tools exclude the majority of certified wood from counting towards the LEED wood certification credit, that’s a problem. Currently, the USGBC only recognizes FSC for the forest certification credit. We need to ensure wood from the U.S. and Canada certified to SFI, CSA, ATFS, and PEFC gets equal recognition with offshore wood certified to FSC. The USGBC is in a process to review this credit; however, it is a lengthy process, and while we spend years waiting it out, the majority of well-managed and certified wood from the U.S. and Canada is discriminated against in the USGBC’s LEED rating system.

Governor Otter’s letter also says “Under the draft benchmarks, much of the nearly 20 million acres of Idaho’s public and private forest land would not qualify for LEED credits. The draft ignores the fact that Idaho’s State and privately held timber lands are harvested under a Forest Practices Act provision requiring use of nationally recognized Best Management Practices (including mandatory protection of Streamside Maintenance Zones) and semi-annual interagency audits which are made public.”

SFI agrees with this statement and has suggested to the USGBC in past written comments that the USGBC needs to give wood a credit for being wood, a renewable resource. If wood has gone through the rigorous third party certification process that standards such as SFI, CSA, ATFS and FSC offer, then an extra LEED credit should be given.

You can read the governor’s letter in full on our website, where you can also see the other letters of support. If you haven’t already, sign the petition and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same!

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