New LEED v4 Credits, FSC’s (Diminished) Role

By Margaret Fisher | Posted: 03/23/2013 8:00AM


Margaret Fisher Lang Bros. Through the numerous changes we’ve become accustomed to, the past 15 years have transformed the original 40 credit LEED program to the present 100+ Credit LEED v3 2009 program we have today. It's still changing. One of the most talked about issues among Architectural Woodwork Industry (AWI) members is whether Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood will remain a part of LEED.

In 2012, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released drafts 1 - 5 of what will become LEED v4 for open public comment. These have resulted in thousands of comments from LEED users. Our AWI Sustainable Resources Committee collaborated and submitted our responses. The way it looks right now is probably about the way it will look when LEED v4 officially goes live this summer.

Credits Changing
To begin with, all the credits we used to be familiar with, such as Recycled Content,Regional Resource, Rapidly Renewable, Certified Wood and the IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) credits for adhesives, finishes and NAUF (No-Added Urea-Formaldehyde) will have been rewritten and placed within new credits. MRc7 – Certified Wood - will no longer exist as its own credit. Instead, the idea of certified wood will exist in combination with other elements in a new credit called MRc3 – Building Material Optimization – Sourcing of Raw Materials.

Here’s how it shakes out.

Corporate sustainability reports, etc. This opens the door for additional sustainable forest management plans such as SFI, PEFC, ATFA, CSA, etc.

Option 2 is earned if one of six other possibilities listed are achieved. Of those six (6) possibilities, one of them is “New Wood Products must be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or USGBC-approved equivalent.”

So in other words, it’s one of six ways you can earn one of the two options to earn one credit out of 100 possible credits. Seriously! The other five possibilities include recycled content, bio-based materials, reused materials and an unknown thing called a USGBC-Approved program.

Naturally, AWI members who have spotted this big change in the LEED v4 draft feel compelled to learn more about how this will affect them. How will AWI members know what to provide? What will USGBC accept if different from FSC? Who decides what USGBC deems equivalent? The AWI Sustainable Resources Committee is working on it. Stay tuned.

Note 1: USGBC is holding open a sixth public comment period on LEED v4 from through March 31. Go to to review the new credits.

Note 2: MR = Materials and Resources

Margaret Fisher is the director of market development at Lange Bros. Woodwork Co. Inc. of Milwaukee, WI. Fisher was recently inducted as an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Architectural Woodwork Institute, having been involved in the custom woodwork industry for three decades. Wood & Wood Products featured her as a 2010 Market Leader.

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Louie Sharp    
Billings, mt.  |  April, 03, 2013 at 01:09 PM

FSC has never established it self as a value added program. The availabilty has been and is still a difficult issue to deal with. The extra cost for FSC to the customer is not offset by the credit system used in the Leed formula. In most cases where the wood products for a project are originally specified are deleted by addendum due to the cost increase or the lack of availability in a timely manner. The CPM becomes more important and more cost effective as the project evolves and the advantages of deleting the FSC in terms of cost and productivity are apparrent.


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