That LEED office building where you’re sitting right now reading this may be built with the environment in mind, but if it has wood, it may or may not have been legally sourced.
Until now, the U.S. Green Building Council, which oversees LEED standards, has not ensured the wood is legally sourced. The agency has now closed that loophole. But in closing that door, it has opened a window to controversy over wood certification programs.
Until now, the Forest Stewardship Council stamp, which indicates wood is sustainably harvested and meets other standards, has been the gold standard in LEED wood use. But to close the legality loophole and incentivize more widespread use of wood in LEED construction, the group has included other certification entities on the list of allowed wood.
Primarily, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative offers certifications for wood, similar to the Forest Stewardship Council. But according to environmentalists, the SFI’s standards aren’t strict enough, not giving protections to, say, non-fish-bearing streams and other ecosystem considerations.
“There’s a big enough gap in their standards that they should be treated differently,” said Paul Vanderford, director of green markets for Sustainable Northwest, when asked if the two systems are equally protective of forestland.
From the Portland Business Journal: http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/sbo/2016/04/green-building-council-gives-leed-credentials-to.html