Maine has always been a leader when it comes to third-party forest certification – and an executive order signed by Governor Paul LePage and a corresponding news release has just reinforced this position.
The Maine executive order says: “The design, construction, operation and maintenance of any new or expanded state building shall incorporate ‘Green Building’ standards that give certification credits equally to forest products grown, manufactured, and certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard, Forest Stewardship Council, American Tree Farm System, and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification systems.”
The reason is straightforward – Governor LePage believes that by supporting the full range of forest certification programs, Maine is advancing the state’s forest industry and helping its forest landowners compete in local, national and international markets. Seven million acres/2.8 million hectares of Maine forests are certified to the SFI 2010-2014 Standard.
SFI issued a news release that helps connect the dots by pointing out how the executive order supports rating tools such as ANSI/GBI 01-2010: Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings (built on Green Globes U.S.) and the National Green Building Standard that give equal credit to products derived from all credible forest certification standards. In our opinion, rating tools like the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED rating tools that do not recognize forest certification standards equally would not meet the requirements of this executive order.
This could be a powerful incentive for the USGBC to level the playing field. Right now, the LEED rating tools only give credit for products certified to the Forest Stewardship Council. Three-quarters of certified lands in North America – a total of 370 million acres/150 million hectares – are certified to SFI, ATFS and CSA, and are not recognized.
And the timing could not be better. The 2012 version of the LEED rating tools is currently under development, and a wide range of organizations are recognizing all forest certification standards. Leaders from across North America – including 100 Members of Congress and Governors – have called on USGBC to open up the LEED rating tool, but Maine is the first jurisdiction to take significant action.
In June, the USGBC released Pilot Credit 43 which recognizes all forest certification standards and gives a credit to them equally. However, this credit is limited to non-structural materials like windows, doors, floors and furniture. Builders, architects and others who appreciate the value of recognizing multiple forest certification standards are encouraged to post comments about Pilot Credit 43 on the LEED user site, and recommend that USGBC open up this credit to structural materials as well.