LEED Recognition for SFI Gets a Big Thumbs Up from Organized Labour

Bob MattersGuest blogger: Bob Matters, Chair, United Steelworkers-Wood Council and SFI board member representing the social sector

I have been a rank and file International Woodworkers of America woodworker and now Steelworkers member since the age of 18 when I was hired at a lumber and planer mill in British Columbia. My almost 40-year career has seen a lot of changes. The recent news from the U.S. Green Building Council about their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating tools is a big change that I think is a career milestone. The decision means more legal, responsibly sourced and certified forest products from well-managed forests will be eligible for green building credits.

The LEED rating tools now offer a pathway for products certified to SFI standards to earn credits. This is big news for organized labour in North America because many of my fellow union members help produce forest products certified to SFI standards. The United Steelworkers-Wood Council represents more than 800,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada and the emerging green building market offers an exciting new avenue for the responsibly sourced products our members produce every day.

Our members have many shared objectives with LEED because of the social equity and quality of life elements that are core to their stated objectives. LEED credits have been designed to consider everyone who is touched or impacted by a building—including the building’s construction workers, designers, engineers; its surrounding community; and those involved, like our members, in the building’s materials supply chain.

SFI shares this community commitment. Through the SFI Standard requirements and community partnership programs, SFI elevates and enriches the link between people and forests. SFI’s community outreach with youth promotes grassroots engagement in environmental issues and helps build the next generation of environmental leaders

As an SFI Board Member, I’m happy to see the U.S. Green Building Council’s decision because union members have been an active voice on issues related to solid wood and green-building recognition. Our members have worked tirelessly with the SFI community to help change the conversation so that decision makers take an inclusive approach to recognizing all credible forest certification standards. Therefore, we are pleased that LEED’s new announcement recognizes SFI, CSA, ATFS and other PEFC endorsed standards.

Over the last few years there has been a lot of tension around this issue and this week’s news is a very positive way to put this tension behind us as we make progress on behalf of forests, markets and people.The recognition of the SFI standards in LEED gives our members, and other hard working people across North America, a new way to benefit from the renewable resources produced by the forests we all share.

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