MAINE - An executive order granting all major forest products certifications equal footing in public green building standards has been issued by Maine's chief exective.

Maine Governor Paul LePage signed an executive order December 8 directing that "any new or expanded state buildings shall incorporate 'Green Building' standards that give certification credits equally to forest products grown, manufactured, and certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard, Forest Stewardship Council, American Tree Farm System, and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification systems."

Inclusive and leading programs such as ANSI/GBI 01-2010: Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings and the ANSI/ICC 700-2008: National Green Building Standard for residential construction would meet the requirements set out for state construction in Maine.

The impact of Maine measure  is easy to understand. Maine's forest-products industry supports an estimated 55,000 jobs, with $3 billion in earnings and contributes $4.3 billion annually to the Maine gross domestic product.

"We believe that by supporting the full range of forest certification programs, we are advancing Maine's forest industry and the interests of our forest landowners in local, national, and global competition for market share," says LePage.

The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating tools that do not recognize forest certification equally would not meet the requirements of this executive order, according to Kathy Abusow, CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initative.

"This policy is great news for North American communities and shows that the Governor and people of Maine are true leaders by being the first jurisdiction in North America to take this important position," said Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI Inc.). More than seven million acres/2.8 million hectares are certified to the SFI Standard in Maine.

Abusow says 100 members of Congress and governors have encouraged the USGBC to reward wood from North American forests by equally recognizing SFI, ATFS, CSA, PEFC and FSC in its LEED rating system. Currently, the LEED rating tool only recognizes FSC. This causes some builders of LEED certified projects to source FSC wood offshore, even when comparable SFI certified wood is available in North America, according to Abusow.

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