Green Building Standard Provides a Monopoly for One Forest Certification Program
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a Unites States Green Building Council (USGBC) accreditation registration program that provides a set of standards for sustainable design and construction. As you have seen the Forest Landowners Association (FLA) report in the past, this standard shows preference to wood that is certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines. Currently, only about 4 percent of the total forests in the U.S. are certified under FSC guidelines. Knowing this begs the question, “How can the greenest building product available be shut out of a green building program?”
In an attempt to create a more level playing field for certified forests in green building programs like LEED, the Coalition for Fair Forest Certification was formed and to date they have been very active.
- The Coalition provided comments to the USGBC due to the latest proposed draft of the Forest Benchmark standard for recognition of Certified Wood in LEED, continuing to provide FSC with a monopoly for certified wood for green building with no justifiable reason for doing so.
- The Coalition’s comments identify several concerns with the proposed Forest Benchmark:
- As the market leader in setting green building standards, adopting a revised benchmark to credit only FSC-certified wood subjects the USGBC to antitrust scrutiny.
- There is no sound basis for USGBC’s dogmatic endorsement of FSC to the exclusion of other standards when, in practice in North America, the standards are indistinguishable.
- USGBC’s approach to wood certification misleads consumers by ….
- The comments also raised concerns regarding potential conflicts of interest, as well as provided some examples of FSC audits that illustrate why an "FSC only" approach misleads consumers.
- With respect to the Forest Benchmark, the Coalition urges the USGBC to conduct its operations in a way that supports its stated mission.
- See a full copy of the submitted comments (pdf of comments)
FLA CEO, Scott Jones, serves on the Coalition for Fair Forest Certification with other groups interested in seeing fair treatment for forests that elect to be certified.
If you’d like to learn more, Cassie Phillips, Vice President of Sustainable Forestry for Weyerhaeuser, will speak about this issue in her presentation “Leveling the Playing Field for Forestry in Green Buildings” at the 2010 National Forest Landowners Conference on June 2 – 4 in Stevenson, Washington. Learn more about the National Forest Landowners Conference on the FLA website.