LEED 2012 Excludes All But FSC

The third and latest draft of LEED 2012 shuts out 75% of North America’s forests because they are certified by programs other than the Forest Stewardship Council, according to representatives of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. The draft of LEED 2012, released on March 1 by the U.S. Green Building Council, is open for public comment through March 27.

Comments are limited to substantive changes made since the previous comment period last summer. The SFI has taken issue in particular with the LEED credits for wood that is certified “FSC or better,” and it encourages USGBC members to vote down LEED 2012. “Who will decide what is better than FSC and on what basis?” said Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of SFI. Inc. “SFI clearly has requirements that are not matched by FSC varying standards around the world. This fact continues to go unrecognized by the USGBC, despite the fact that governors, congressmen, and 6,000 individuals have urged the USGBC not to turn its back on North American forests and recognize all forest certification standards.”

Currently LEED recognizes only forests certified to the FSC, which account for about one quarter of North America’s certified forests. The rest are certified to SFI, Canadian Standards Association (CSA), and American Tree Farm System (ATFS), all of which are endorsed by the international Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). LEED credits address “reponsible extraction of raw materials.”

Of course, LEED addresses far more than wood products, including areas such as energy and water usage, site selection, and indoor environmental quality. LEED credit requirements have been rewritten to better align with documentation already required by the architecture and construction fields, the USGBC noted. Several other changes have been designed to improve LEED usability.

LEED is designed as a voluntary standard, al- though state and local governments may require compliance with all or part of LEED.   LEED 2012 will be balloted during June; pending ap- proval, the USGBC indicates it will launch in November.

To vote in the ballot, USGBC members in good standing must opt in beginning April 2. To opt in, or to re- view or comment on LEED 2012, go to www.usgbc.org/LEED2012.

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