FSC Still No. 1

FSC Still No. 1

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) urges FSC boycott in response to failed proposal that would have opened the door for non-FSC products

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification is still the only label for sustainable wood products that qualifies for credit under LEED, an important U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) rating system.

Despite several years of work and heavy lobbying by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and others  who say their certifications also should qualify, revisions that would have allowed consideration of non-FSC products for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credit have been defeated.

“The conclusion of the benchmark process marks a new opportunity to work with the USGBC and other interests to find an alternative and workable solution moving forward,” said Kathy Abusow, SFI Inc. president and CEO, in a written statement released today.

But cooperation isn’t a theme in the rest of her message, which urges the building community to ignore the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credit earned for using FSC-certified wood.

“For now, the building community should forgo the one point in the certified wood credit and use SFI-certified products in LEED buildings to demonstrate their pride and support for North American forests, communities and jobs,” Abusow said.

While 55 percent of consensus body members who participated voted “yes” and 42 percent voted “no,” an approval of two-thirds was needed for the proposal to pass. FSC had opposed the proposal as too lax. Ironically, it was also opposed by  SFI and others, including the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC), the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and the Canadian Standards Association. Their objection? The proposal was too stringent.

SFI began as an arm of the U.S. timber industry but now stresses that it is an independent, non-profit group.

“This one (wood certification) point in the 100-point rating system has continued to be the source of tremendous tension,” reads a statement issued Dec. 6 by the USGBC.

And, no doubt, the tension will continue.


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