Washington, DC, USA, 16 July 2010 -- /PRNewswire/ -- In a letter steered by Congressmen Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), 79 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing 35 different states, have urged the organization to "accept all credible forest certification systems for qualification under the LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] rating system," including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).
USGBC today also received a petition with nearly 6000 signatories calling for LEED recognition of all "wood and paper products certified to independent, respected, and credible standards, including SFI, ATFS [American Tree Farm System], CSA [Canadian Standards Association], FSC [Forest Stewardship Council], and PEFC [Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification]." In addition, six members of Congress have sent their own letters urging an inclusive LEED policy.
"From the halls of Congress to other elected officials across North America to architects, builders, family tree farmers and forestry and sustainability experts around the world, the support for a change in LEED has grown exponentially," said Kathy Abusow, SFI president and CEO. "Wood should be recognized for its environmental merits, and third-party certified forest products should be given additional credit."
More than three quarters of certified forests in North America are certified to standards not currently recognized by USGBC. The letter from the House members states that maintaining the status quo will mean builders seeking LEED certification "would be discouraged to use third-party certified SFI and ATFS products" grown in the United States, while opening LEED to other forest certification programs "could stimulate the market for American produced forest products and the communities and jobs that depend on both."
In a letter to Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president, that was delivered with the SFI petition, Abusow wrote that it has "stimulated a tremendous outpouring of support, tapping into a broad and diverse community" and that "it's difficult to ignore the voices of almost 6000 people from around the world who took the time to respond."
In addition to the petition signers and members of Congress, 10 U.S. governors, representing Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Virginia and Washington, have written letters to the USGBC to voice concerns over the current approach to wood product certification. The Canadian Council of Forest Ministers and individual provincial ministers also have written letters to the USGBC to show their support for all credible forest certification standards. (A list of the professional organizations and governments that have commented on this issue, and summaries, are available at www.sfiprogram.org/leed).
Numerous green building rating systems around the globe have recognized all credible forest certification programs. This includes ANSI/ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard, ANSI/GBI Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings, Built Green Canada, CASBEE in Japan, BREEAM in the United Kingdom, and the Australian Green Building Council's Green Star Program. In addition, green building codes, including the draft International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and ASHRE 189.1, also recognize multiple forest certification programs.
"The road through the USGBC review process has not been short or uncomplicated, and in the end, we hope the organization gets past this outdated process and the politics around the LEED forest certification policy. 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, including SFI, ATFS, PEFC, CSA and FSC," said Abusow. "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."