July 29th, 2010
Jason Metnick, SFI Senior Director of Market Access and Product Labeling, recaps his recent radio interviews discussing the impact of the USGBC's current certified wood credit policy on North American lumber
I recently had the pleasure of taking part in a series of radio interviews across the U.S. to explain the importance of opening LEED to all credible forest certification standards. The reporters and talk show hosts I spoke to were very engaged and concerned about the impact on their states. This was the case on stations from Arkansas to Michigan to Oregon to Mississippi, and places in between.
We want local forest owners to get a fair shake from the USGBC and be able to fully get credit for their certification to SFI, CSA or ATFS. Green building is expected to be a $140 billion dollar industry in the next three years. An unintended consequence of the USGBC's current FSC-only policy is that because the majority of FSC's certified lands are outside the U.S. and Canada, builders and architects may source from oversees to obtain the 1 certified wood credit under LEED, and say no to domestic products certified to SFI, ATFS and CSA. Obviously green building is an important part of the economy which makes opening the LEED rating system even more important to tree farmers, architects, builders and many more across North America.
It's exciting to see more and more people take notice and support the movement to open LEED. Click the links below and take a listen to a few of the interviews.
July 23rd, 2010
Nadine Block, who manages Government Outreach for SFI, shares announcement of world-wide support for USGBC to open its LEED standard.
The call for a change in the LEED standard is truly global. Twelve nations have urged USGBC to end LEED’s discrimination against wood and accept all credible forest certification standards.
In a July 22nd press release, the international non-profit Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), a leading umbrella organization that endorses national forest certification systems, stated: “Standards from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, the Slovak Republic, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, along with forest industry associations and companies from many of these countries, have joined North American elected and government officials, professional foresters and other leaders who have told USGBC that in order to increase the use of wood in buildings, all credible certification systems, including PEFC and FSC, need to be accepted.”
Approximately 543 million acres are certified to national standards endorsed by PEFC — including 377 million acres in North America alone- none of which are recognized by the USGBC's LEED standard.
Several of these same countries, along with others, accounted for the more than 5,800 signatures on SFI's online petition that was delivered to USGBC's President and CEO, Rick Fedrizzi, Thursday, July 15th.
USGBC must do the right thing. It is not just North America. The whole world is watching.
July 16th, 2010
Nadine Block, who manages Government Outreach for SFI, shares news about Congressional support to open USGBC's LEED green building rating system.
Members of Congress have joined with 10 U.S. governors, adding their voices to the thousands calling for an open LEED rating system. A bipartisan letter signed by 79 members of the House of Representatives was sent to Mr. Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, urging the USGBC to “expedite the review of forest management certification systems and to accept all credible forest management certification systems for qualification under the LEED rating system.” The effort was initiated by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), both members of the House Agriculture Committee, which oversees forestry issues. The letter brings to light that if the LEED rating system maintains the status quo and does not recognize the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), many builders who seek LEED certification will be discouraged from using SFI and ATFS-certified products grown in the United States.
The letter began to gather support in mid-June just as we finished up with two successful briefings on Capitol Hill and as the USGBC opened a fourth round of draft benchmarks evaluating the forest certification programs in its LEED rating system.
In addition to Congressional support, nearly 6,000 people have signed a petition to open LEED, and 10 U.S. governors — representing Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Virginia and Washington — have written letters to the USGBC to voice their concerns over the current approach to wood product certification.
With many members of Congress active in forestry issues and representing districts with acres of forest lands, this topic received broad support. They understand the value of wood in green building. At SFI, we believe wood products should be given a LEED credit for being a durable, renewable resource, and additional credit should be given for credible third-party certified wood, including SFI, ATFS, CSA, FSC and PEFC. The voice of elected officials and policy-makers is crucial in encouraging responsible forest management and ensuring that all forest certification systems play a credible role in this process.
July 15th, 2010
Today SFI delivered nearly 6,000 petition signatures and hundreds of comments to President, CEO & Founding Chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council Rick Fedrizzi urging the organization to open LEED. Our petition helps demonstrate what we already suspected—there's a broad base of supporters who are deeply committed and passionate about responsible forest management, green building and the communities that depend on these forests.
The road through the USGBC review process has not been short or uncomplicated, and in the end, we hope the organization gets past its outdated process and the politics around the LEED forest certification policy. Inclusiveness is the answer. It's what other green building programs and codes globally already have applied. Multiple forest certification programs push each other to do better, and they serve different needs.
One-fifth of all U.S. governors have written letters in support of opening LEED. Professional societies including the National Association of State Foresters, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers and the Society of American Foresters have released statements urging the USGBC to change its policy.
The USGBC needs to focus on the facts and create a program that recognizes the value of wood as a green building material and all the benefits credible forest certification programs bring. Considering the staggering number of responses in the petition, along with broad support from respected forestry experts, conservation groups and government officials, our common vision should be impossible to ignore.
For the sake of our forests, our communities, the tens of thousands of family foresters who make their livelihoods from forestry and the future of green building across North America and globally, it is time for USGBC to do the right thing and recognize all credible forest certification standards: SFI, ATFS, CSA, FSC and PEFC.
Now is not the time to let up. Show support for increased certification by signing our petition, as well as passing along our green building video to friends and family. If you're a voting member of USGBC, vote against the current benchmarks. Ask the USGBC to accept all credible forest certification standards. Do what's best for our forests here in North America and globally.
Thank you for your ongoing support of this important initiative!
July 1st, 2010
Nadine Block, who focuses on Government Outreach for SFI, gives an overview of the Hill Briefings held in mid-June.
Last month SFI participated in briefings on Capitol Hill, and a remarkable panel helped bring awareness to forest certification, wood as an ideal building material, and the importance of opening LEED to all credible forest certification programs. The briefing was a part of High-Performance Building Week, a perfect opportunity to talk about issues surrounding wood and green building.
Briefing panelists included 2009 National Tree Farmers of the Year Earl and Wanda Barrs, CEO of the Society of American Foresters Michael Goergen, President of the National Association of State Foresters Steven Koehn and union representative Bill Street.
Several themes emerged during the briefings:
Some of our panelists recorded a few thoughts I thought would be interesting to share:
Earl Barrs, Gully Branch Tree Farm, 2009 National Tree Farmer of the Year
“One reason we have forest land in Georgia is because we've always had good markets, and it's important we continue to have good markets ... We're doing all the conservation environmental stewardship and we're doing all the things that make a forest sustainable.”
Wanda Barrs, Gully Branch Tree Farm, 2009 National Tree Farmer of the Year
“If we don't have healthy markets, then the likelihood of our family farm surviving the next generation transfer is highly unlikely. The quality of life and conservation values — air quality, clean water, recreation, wildlife, recreation — can be lost if there are no markets.”
Michael Goergen, CEO of Society of American Foresters
“There are many different forest certification systems, and the value of having these certification systems is they improve each other... They're pushing each other to improve their standards all the time. They're using better science. They're getting better information, and they're improving forest management on the ground.”
We feel energized from the feedback and interest we got on the Hill, and we plan to continue outreach to key officials. You can help too! Urge the USGBC to open its LEED rating system. Show support for increased certification by signing our petition, as well as passing along our green building video to friends and family.
June 30th, 2010
Jason Metnick, SFI Senior Director of Market Access and Product Labeling, notes several groups agree with SFI — USGBC should recognize SFI and other forest certification standards.
Craig Webb recently wrote an article for ProSales outlining the benchmark changes and why various organizations don't feel the current draft properly addresses forest certification issues. Yesterday Dovetail, a non-profit organization that works to remote responsible environmental behavior, issued a press release expressing their disappointment in USGBC's benchmarks.
“The drawn-out forest certification benchmark revision process could, and should, have focused on development of a generic benchmark standard for construction materials in general,” notes Dr. Jim Bowyer, Director of the Responsible Materials Program within Minneapolis-based Dovetail Partners.
SFI believes the benchmarks, like the one currently proposed could result in never ending revisions, assessments and evaluations year after year with no clear results. We know the USGBC can do better, which is why we've urged USGBC leaders to listen to elected officials, government agencies, professional foresters, and others who are telling them to end the discrimination against North American forests and accept wood certified to all forest certification standards used in North America — SFI, FSC, CSA, ATFS and PEFC.
June 24th, 2010
Jason Metnick, SFI Senior Director of Market Access and Label Use, provides an update on LEED benchmarks.
As you may have seen, the USGBC recently requested comments on a fourth round of draft benchmarks to evaluate forest certification programs in its LEED green building rating system. SFI has cautioned the USGBC that a process like the one currently proposed could result in never ending revisions, assessments and evaluations year after year with no clear results. We believe it is time for USGBC’s leadership to end this process and give credit for wood use and forest certification standards. SFI strongly supports green building, and we believe SFI and other credible certification programs are a clear fit for green building rating systems. Wood from responsibly-managed forests, like those certified to the SFI Standard, is an excellent choice for any new construction or renovation. Wood is renewable, it sequesters carbon and is powered by solar energy. These factors, coupled with wood's desirable aesthetic and structural characteristics, make it a great choice for green buildings. We therefore suggest that the USGBC should:
USGBC leaders should listen to elected officials, government agencies, professional foresters, and others who are telling them to end the discrimination against North American forests and accept wood certified to all forest certification standards used in North America – SFI, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
It's not too late to show your support and urge the USGBC to sunset the forest certification benchmarks. Please sign our petition, and check out our short green building video. Also, please forward the petition and video to friends and family who care about the future of North American forests. You can find more information about the comment period on the USGBC's website, and you can check out our public statement regarding the fourth round of public comments on SFI's website.
June 14th, 2010
Nadine Block, who focuses on Government Outreach for SFI, has an exciting update about more government support for opening LEED.
The four co-chairs of the Congressional Timber Caucus recently sent a powerful letter to the USGBC advocating for the organization to reverse its exclusive LEED policy. Representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX), Bart Stupak (D-MI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Mike Ross (D-AR) urged the USGBC to open LEED in order to stop the discrimination against North American wood products and recognize wood as a responsible, renewable choice for green building.
They stated, “If the status quo remains unchanged, and SFI and ATFS wood products are not recognized, we believe many LEED builders will turn away reputable third-party SFI and ATFS certified wood which is grown locally and instead turn to FSC certified wood, the large majority of which is grown in other countries. Wood projects should be treated equally with other building products, such as steel and concrete, which are not required to have third-party environmental certification in order to receive a credit.”
At SFI, we agree. I continue to ask you to demand change. Sign the petition and ask your family, friends and colleagues to do the same. Change in LEED is crucial for the future of green building and forest certification.
June 4th, 2010
The governor states that under the LEED rating system, “bamboo from China and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood from Russia and Brazil would be certified, whereas only some of Idaho's wood would be certified.”
We agree with his point—when the LEED rating tools exclude the majority of certified wood from counting towards the LEED wood certification credit, that's a problem. Currently, the USGBC only recognizes FSC for the forest certification credit. We need to ensure wood from the U.S. and Canada certified to SFI, CSA, ATFS, and PEFC gets equal recognition with offshore wood certified to FSC. The USGBC is in a process to review this credit; however, it is a lengthy process, and while we spend years waiting it out, the majority of well-managed and certified wood from the U.S. and Canada is discriminated against in the USGBC's LEED rating system.
Governor Otter's letter also says “Under the draft benchmarks, much of the nearly 20 million acres of Idaho's public and private forest land would not qualify for LEED credits. The draft ignores the fact that Idaho's State and privately held timber lands are harvested under a Forest Practices Act provision requiring use of nationally recognized Best Management Practices (including mandatory protection of Streamside Maintenance Zones) and semi-annual interagency audits which are made public.”
SFI agrees with this statement and has suggested to the USGBC in past written comments that the USGBC needs to give wood a credit for being wood, a renewable resource. If wood has gone through the rigorous third party certification process that standards such as SFI, CSA, ATFS and FSC offer, then an extra LEED credit should be given.
You can read the governor's letter in full on our website, where you can also see the other letters of support. If you haven't already, sign the petition and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same!
“Enough already! For the past decade, the USGBC has given the Forest Stewardship Council a monopoly on wood from its forests being used in LEED Projects. It's time for the USGBC to open the door to other wood certification programs.”
We couldn't agree more with the words written by Robert Cassidy, editor-in-chief of Building Design + Construction. His recent editorial discusses several points we've been bringing up for quite some time:
We encourage you to read his article in full. If you haven't done so yet, add your name to the petition urging the USGBC to open the LEED rating system. We are delighted to see an increasing number of advocates taking a stand!
March 23rd, 2010
Last week SFI was highlighted on a CTV broadcast as a label consumers can trust. In a market full of products toting themselves as “green” or “eco-friendly,” it's difficult to know where to turn, but the Consumers' Association of Canada is trying to help remedy the issue. The feature advises consumers to do research and frequent retailers you can trust to help you distinguish between environmentally sound products and those which are “greenwashing.” CTV reporters point to research from Terrachoice Environmental Marketing – We've blogged about their research in the past. You can read about how SFI is among 14 labels the group recognizes as “legitimate.” At SFI, we pride ourselves on our comprehensive, science-based requirements that integrate the continuous growing of trees with the protection of wildlife, plants, soil and water quality. Additionally, our program is overseen by an independent Board of Directors, providing even more credibility. The SFI label tells customers they are buying products from responsibly managed forests.
A number of forestry experts (including the National Association of State Foresters), conservation groups (including The Conservation Fund) and government officials from Canada and the United States support the SFI standard as a credible forestry certification standard in North America. (You can read more about this on our website.)
We are proud of what our label stands for, proud of our growing SFI community, and continue to work hard on promoting responsible forest management in North America and around the world. We applaud the Consumers' Association's to raise awareness on the issue of greenwashing and support clear guidelines for consumers to determine which products actually are environmentally friendly!
March 22nd, 2010
Let me start out by saying how grateful I am to all of the SFI, ATFS, CSA and PEFC supporters who have stood behind us in our efforts urging the U.S. Green Building Council to open its LEED Rating System to all credible third-party forest certification systems. We asked you to add your name to a petition, and in less than 24 hours, more than 1,000 people who believe in our cause expressed comments of general encouragement toward this mission. I thank you for this, but we're not done yet. We're now at more than 2,450 signatures and hope to see that number keep rising.
We encourage you to add your name to the petition if you haven't done so already. Email this message to employees, friends, family, colleagues and anyone you feel supports responsible forestry, our communities and the future of green building. The momentum of the USGBC petition is strong—and we hope to keep the numbers climbing!
I want to share just a few of the great comments posted with signatures on the petition:
Trees are the only truly renewable resource. It is tragic to think that mined and energy intensive products such as steel, sheet rock and concrete are considered more environmentally friendly than wood. Let ALL recognized and independently verified certification programs into the LEED standard!
There is no doubt that SFI has established credible standards supporting best management practices in forestry along with verifiable data. It is time for science and verifiable data to drive the certification. Good forestry follows good markets as data will show. We will plant, grow, harvest, and replant as the market grows. This will enhance clean air, clean water, wildlife and all the supports of our quality of life. As 2009 National Tree Farmer of the Year and 2010 Governor's Agricultural Stewardship Award winners, Earl and I know firsthand how important sustainability, stewardship and conservation are to our industry, state and nation.
–Wanda T. Barrs
I respect the LEED standard, but LEED seems not to have respect for SFI, ATFS or PEFC. We all want the same thing…and it is a great shame that LEED wants to lock out these wonderful groups with the highest of standards that include so many good stewards of the land. WAKE UP, LEED!
Your signatures and comments make us proud to be involved with SFI and reinforce what we stand for. We value your continued support.
March 16th, 2010
We've heard from a lot of people and organizations over the past few weeks about dissatisfaction with the direction the USGBC is taking the forest certification benchmarks. The deadline to submit comments on this latest round has passed, but there is still more we can all do: take action by signing this petition.
All credible certification standards, including SFI, ATFS, CSA, and PEFC should be recognized by LEED
Why should you sign? Well, for a couple of reasons:
For the sake of our forests, our communities and the future of green building, I urge you to sign here. For more information about this issue, download SFI's statement and read what voices in leadership roles are saying. From politicians to community leaders to forestry experts to environmental groups, all walks of life are taking a stand and recognizing SFI, ATFS and CSA as viable systems for the LEED Rating System.