MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and more than a dozen of the world’s largest environmental organizations recently urged the green building community to vote down a proposal to weaken standards for forest and forest products in the popular LEED® program. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) opened voting on the measure last week.
“Where we use forests, we have a responsibility to use them well,” says Corey Brinkema, president of the Forest Stewardship Council in the United States. “These revisions would be a big step backwards for the green building movement.”
Currently, only wood certified under standards set by the FSC is accepted for a credit toward green certifications in LEED. The revisions would make key principles of exemplary forest management optional rather than mandatory. They would also allow new certifications by groups without balanced and independent governance.
“The certified wood credit in LEED has been one of the principal drivers for healthy forests ecosystems in North America and around the world—we believe the standards set by FSC should represent the floor, not the ceiling,” says Brinkema.
In the 10 years since the LEED program has recognized FSC, North American forests certified under FSC standards have grown in size from less than 10 million acres to more than 130 million acres.
Leading environmental organizations—including the Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace—support FSC certification in LEED because it represents the gold standard in forest management. These groups and seven others have issued a letter urging USGBC members to vote “negative, with reason” to the weakened standards. According to these groups, “Clearly, a credit whose stated intent is to encourage ‘exemplary’ forest management should reward wood from forests whose management surpasses status quo practices.”
The complete LEED program will come up for revision in 2012, with broad implications for the green building movement. If the proposed revision passes, it would encourage widespread lobbying for weaker standards throughout LEED.
“The bottom line is high standards are working, both for LEED and FSC,” notes Brinkema. “Green building is that rare bright spot in real estate. Cheapening its standards would be disastrous.”
Download letter from environmental organizations here.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is a pioneer forum where the global consensus on responsible forest management convenes and through democratic process effects solutions to the pressures facing the world’s forests and forest-dependent communities. Visit www.fsc.org to learn more.