For the past 10 years, the U.S. Green Building Council has made Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood a must for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design projects by making it the only option to garner points. The FSC is the nation’s only third-party wood certifier, so that makes sense.
Fog covers a Forest Stewardship Council-certified forest in Sabah, Malaysia. Photo By Angela Sevin/Courtesy Flickr.
It doesn’t make sense to the North American timber industry, however. Years ago, the industry eschewed third-party certification for self-regulation through its Sustainable Forestry Initiative label. With the much-laxer standards that you’d expect from an industry disciplining itself, the SFI label has been a source of confusion for good-intentioned consumers who think they’re buying independently certified sustainable wood. Now, under pressure from U.S. and Canadian timber groups, the USGBC is considering revising its system to include the SFI.
While the FSC standards have flaws—one of the biggest being that it’s far too expensive for small operations to get certified—they are the best bet we have to prevent deforestation. The USGBC’s LEED revisions will go to a vote later this year. We hope the group will maintain its strict standards.