Broader Eligibility for LEED Credits Creates a Bridge to a Greener Economy

Guest blog:
Photo Gene in polo-webGene Kodama, South Carolina State Forester, National Association of State Foresters Forest Markets Committee, and Chair of the USDA Forestry Research Advisory Council

My fellow State Foresters and I are committed to maintaining and expanding markets for the broad array of sustainable forest products produced in our nation’s well-managed working forests. Our ability to fulfill this mission has been enhanced by the U.S. Green Building Council’s decision to recognize the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Standards.

Opening another sustainable path for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits is good news for everyone who wants to see forests play their rightful role as a key renewable resource in a thriving green economy. In 2013, the National Association of State Foresters renewed a resolution that endorsed the use of sustainable or green architecture in the United States for residential, commercial and public buildings. As part of that same resolution, we urged private entities and governments at all levels to recognize the value of multiple forest certification systems.

We believe forest certification is one important tool that can be used to promote and demonstrate responsible forestry when it comes to green building and the wider market for forest products. Our decision to certify state forests in South Carolina highlights the importance we place on providing leadership in environmental sustainability in our state.

In combination with private lands, there are 2.2 million acres in South Carolina certified to SFI or the ATFS, and millions more acres of family owned forests that benefit from SFI Fiber Sourcing. These well managed forests put us in a great position to meet demand for green building products.

These kinds of initiatives help expand our state’s economy, ensure environmental care, and enhance societal benefits. South Carolina’s forest industry’s economic impact was last tallied at $18.6 billion annually making the industry a critical driver of growth and prosperity. I am confident that our forest certification support and actions demonstrate to the national and global marketplace that South Carolina landowners and businesses are leaders in forest sustainability and are playing a positive role in building the green economy.

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