WASHINGTON — The two major green certification groups for lumber are continuing to attack — for much different reasons — the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) third attempt to create a system by which multiple wood certification schemes would qualify for points under the LEED rating system, according to EcoHome magazine.

The comments by the Forest Stewardship Council’s U.S. branch (FSC-US) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) echoed previous stated views about the certification issue that suggest USGBC will have a hard time satisfying everyone, despite its recent attempt to resolve some concerns that both sides raised.

“We at the Forest Stewardship Council would like to see the USGBC complete and approve a strong benchmark and related…credit revisions that reward forest managers who practice truly exemplary forestry,” FSC-US President Corey Brinkema wrote March 10. “Regrettably, this draft does not achieve that.”

“It appears that the USGBC…is set to continue with the status quo policy of excluding forest certification standards other than the FSC…If the USGBC maintains the status quo and does not recognize the SFI standards, many LEED builders who chase points will turn away reputable third-party certified SFI wood, which is grown in their backyard, in the U.S. and Canada, and instead turn to FSC-certified wood — the vast majority of the FSC’s global supply comes from overseas and often from countries without effective social laws,” said SFI President and CEO Kathy Abusow.

At issue is the way USGBC gives points in its various LEED certification programs for the use of wood. At present, only FSC-certified lumber qualifies for points in the program. Many North American timber operations prefer the certification schemes run by SFI, the Canadian Standards Assn. (CSA) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification,

and they have pushed for years to get those certifications recognized by USGBC for LEED points, according to EcoHome magazine.

USGBC has been working since 2006 to come up with new language that replaces its FSC-only preference with verbiage that would make it possible for any certification scheme that meets certain benchmarks to have its certification qualify for LEED points.

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