States Fight Green-Building Leader Over Local Wood


Deal used a speech to the Southern Group of State Foresters meeting in Savannah last month to urge foresters from government agencies across the Southeast to push the issue with their own governors back home.

“Prior to my executive order, some 99 percent of Georgia’s forests were unfairly excluded from consideration as being an appropriate green material for building,” Deal told the group.

The state backlash comes as LEED stakeholders are voting this month on a revised version of its green-building standards, which are voluntary but have become increasingly desirable for private companies and government agencies looking to burnish their environmental credentials.

The Green Building Council says the ruckus has been drummed up by industry groups trying to pressure it into giving LEED sustainability credits for wood that hasn’t earned them. The push is being led by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or SFI, which certifies more than 60 million acres of U.S. timberland including forests owned by corporate giants such as Weyerhaeuser and Rayonier. The group and its standards were created by the timber industry, though SFI says it’s been independently governed for the past decade.

SFI and an affiliated program, the American Tree Farm System favored by many small landowners, aren’t recognized for certifying sustainable wood that’s eligible for LEED credit. The green-building program counts only wood labeled as sustainably grown and harvested by one group – the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC, which operates in 80 countries. It certifies some 35 million U.S. acres but has been unpopular in several of the states where officials are speaking out against FSC’s exclusivity with LEED. Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas, for example, each have less than 100,000 acres of FSC certified land.

The groups that say they’re being snubbed by LEED insist all three standards accomplish the same big-picture goals for ensuring sustainable timber growth – they require replanting after trees are removed by logging, they impose buffers next to rivers and streams to reduce pollution and they contain protections for habitat used by endangered animals.

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Posted by on Jul 1st, 2013 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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