The General Services Administration’s formal recommendation to the Dept. of Energy on Oct. 25, 2013 actually contained six recommendations for the Federal government’s use of green building certification systems.
But the one that has garnered the most attention is recommendation No. 2.
“When choosing to use a green building certification system, GSA recommends that agencies use either the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) 2009 or the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes 2010 green building certification system."
The Window and Door Manufacturers Assn. commends the decision, which would give people an additional option for certification systems. The WDMA added that the present federal green building policy only recognizes LEED 2009, with wood credit only for wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. “Green Globes 2010 recognizes forest certifications such as Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and American Tree Farm System (ATFS) in addition to FSC,” says the WDMA.
The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Assn. is also a fan of the recommendation, saying the GSA’s decision will allow for greater use of North American wood in federal buildings and give agencies a choice between the two certification systems “that best meet their building portfolios.”
SFI’s VP of Government Affairs Nadine Block is also a fan of the recommendation, calling it a very positive outcome, “putting Green Globes on par with LEED in federal use of green building rating systems.”
Several states have protested the current system, in place since 2006 – including Maine, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana and it is possible the protesting states objections were a factor in the 2013 recommendations. Maine’s Governor Paul LePage challenged LEED wood standards with an executive order late in 2011, that put all major forest products certifications “equal footing” in public green building standards.
U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu wrote GSA Administrator Daniel Tangherlini in Nov. 2012, expressing concerns that LEED “only recognized the Forest Stewardship Council’s forestry certification program for its certified wood credit, leaving out two of the largest independently-audited forest certification programs in the U.S. – SFI and ATFS. Over 86 million acres of forests (or 75% of certified timberland) in the U.S. are SFI or ATFS certified including 4.7 million in LA.”
Landrieu added that 95 percent of the United States’ (and 96% of Louisiana’s) working forests would be excluded from receiving a certified wood credit. Landrieu said her state employs more than 63,000 people in the forest related industry and exceeds annual sales of $7.2 billion. Landrieu added that since 2005 the wood products manufacturing industry has lost 20 percent of its jobs and nearly $9 billion in wages.
For those unhappy with the recommendations, take heart. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) requires the Director of GSA’s Office of Federal High-Peformance Green Buildings to identify a certification system or systems every five years that is “most likely to encourage a comprehensive and environmentally sound approach to the certification of green buildings” and to provide a recommendation to the Secretary of Energy.