Nadine Block, who manages Government Outreach for SFI, shares news about Congressional support to open USGBC’s LEED green building rating system.
Members of Congress have joined with 10 U.S. governors, adding their voices to the thousands calling for an open LEED rating system. A bipartisan letter signed by 79 members of the House of Representatives was sent to Mr. Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, urging the USGBC to “expedite the review of forest management certification systems and to accept all credible forest management certification systems for qualification under the LEED rating system.” The effort was initiated by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), both members of the House Agriculture Committee, which oversees forestry issues. The letter brings to light that if the LEED rating system maintains the status quo and does not recognize the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), many builders who seek LEED certification will be discouraged from using SFI and ATFS-certified products grown in the United States.
The letter began to gather support in mid-June just as we finished up with two successful briefings on Capitol Hill and as the USGBC opened a fourth round of draft benchmarks evaluating the forest certification programs in its LEED rating system.
In addition to Congressional support, nearly 6,000 people have signed a petition to open LEED, and 10 U.S. governors – representing Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Virginia and Washington – have written letters to the USGBC to voice their concerns over the current approach to wood product certification.
With many members of Congress active in forestry issues and representing districts with acres of forest lands, this topic received broad support. They understand the value of wood in green building. At SFI, we believe wood products should be given a LEED credit for being a durable, renewable resource, and additional credit should be given for credible third-party certified wood, including SFI, ATFS, CSA, FSC and PEFC. The voice of elected officials and policy-makers is crucial in encouraging responsible forest management and ensuring that all forest certification systems play a credible role in this process.