LEED Recognition for SFI Will Help Improve Water Quality and Conserve Biodiversity

Greg-Siekaniec-webGuest blogger:
Greg Siekaniec
CEO, Ducks Unlimited Canada and SFI Vice Chair

At Ducks Unlimited Canada, our goal is to ensure abundant wetlands, waterfowl, and associated wildlife for generations to come while also improving Canadian lives. Our conservation efforts focus on a wide landscape because waterfowl and other birds are migratory. We do important conservation work in the boreal forest with our partners at SFI.

As a partner with SFI, I was pleased to learn that the U.S. Green Building Council has created a pathway to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits for choosing products certified to SFI. We all know that building with wood is a good thing because it is a renewable resource and provides a beautiful product. Well-managed, working forests also deliver environmental services that benefit human health, such as filtering and cleaning our water.

These same working forests also provide critical habitats for waterfowl and other species. Using an SFI conservation grant enabled us to partner with SFI Program Participants Louisiana Pacific Canada, Weyerhaeuser, Spruce Products Ltd., as well as FPInnovations to develop best practices for building forestry roads to preserve wetland ecosystems in the western boreal forest. This is an important example of how SFI has helped us influence forestry operations in ways that help vast areas of boreal forest so important to waterfowl and other birds.

SFI and LEED also complement each other when it comes to spreading good conservation practices.

Among the strongest synergies between LEED and SFI are the ways both systems focus on enhancing water quality and on conserving biodiversity. SFI’s standards focus specifically on these elements. For example, on water quality, SFI mandates the use of best management practices that are comprehensive and go well beyond legal requirements to protect the water quality of rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and other water bodies. On biodiversity, SFI Program Participants must develop programs to conserve significant species of concern and protect biodiversity.

Understanding the conservation impact of SFI’s approach is important because the benefits of using wood are realized only to the extent that architects, builders and others who want to source green building materials can be sure the wood comes from sustainable sources. SFI offers the proof point the construction sector needs to make the case that a building project relies on responsible sources.

I’m confident that the ability to earn LEED credits with SFI products will provide an added boost to the green building sector in North America. The U.S. Green Building Council’s decision to include SFI provides an important new avenue to encourage sustainable sourcing from North American Forests. Expanding markets for forest products will, in turn, increase the economic value we place on them and encourage the kind of sustainable management we need to secure the future of forests.

With 282 million acres/114 million hectares certified to the SFI Standard, the options for green builders just grew exponentially — something that’s good news for forests and the wetland habitats Ducks Unlimited is committed to protecting.

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