ATLANTA— Georgia officially endorsed sustainable wood certifications more favorable to its wood industry, effectively abandoning formal LEED green building standards in state-funded projects. Georgia follows Maine, which made a similar move from LEED and FSC in December 2011.
“The U.S. Green Council’s LEED rating system unfairly awards its wood certification credits only to products certified under one standard," says Governor Nathan Deal. "Recognizing all forest certifications equally will promote sustainable forestry in our state and will help create thousands of jobs.”
Governor Deal's executive order directs new or expanded state buildings to incorporate “Green Building” standards that give certification credits equally to forest products grown, manufactured and certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Current LEED green building standards, widely endorsed and accepted in the architectural industry, specify only FSC-certified lumber and wood products as eligible for LEED points in construction.
Georgia’s forestry industry, the second largest in the state, injects $23.8 billion and more than 108,000 jobs into the state's economy, according to figures cited by the governor's office.
The executive order also states that the design, construction, operation and maintenance of any existing state building to be renovated will incorporate “Green Building” standards in order to achieve significant energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
Signed August 10, was publicly released August 15, quickly garnering support from alternate chain of custody certification programs, including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the American Forestry Foundation, which operates the American Tree Farm System for cerification.
“Demand for Georgia’s wood products is just what family forest owners need," said Bettina Ring, American Forestry Foundation's Senior VP for Family Forests. "Increased demand for these home-grown green building materials will help keep Georgia’s forests as forests because owners will reinvest resources back into their land.”