USGBC Seeks Comment on Certified Wood Credits

The U.S. Green Building Council opened its first 30-day public comment period for proposed changes in how the LEED (Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ awards points for the use of certified wood, according to an Aug. 8 press release.

The focus of the proposed LEED credit language changes is on transparency -- setting forth a clear set of metrics that any forest certification system must meet in order to be recognized within LEED. Currently, only wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council are eligible for LEED points.

Under the newly proposed credit language, wood certification systems would be evaluated for eligibility to earn points towards LEED certification against a measurable benchmark that includes:

• Governance • Technical/Standards Substance • Accreditation and Auditing • Chain of Custody and Labeling Wood certification programs that are, after thorough objective analysis, deemed compliant with the benchmarks would be recognized by LEED. Wood certification programs that are not found to be in alignment with the benchmark would have a clear and transparent understanding why.

"The proposed evolution of the certified wood credit in LEED will help focus the forest certification conversation on outcomes and performance," said Brendan Owens, vice president of LEED Technical Development, USGBC.

The council has been studying this issue for two years with input from a widely diverse set of stakeholders and with the support of internationally recognized experts from the Yale Program on Forest Policy and Governance and Life Cycle Assessment experts at Sylvatica. This research, which served as a foundation for USGBC's proposed wood credit language changes, is available at http://www.yale.edu/forestcertification/USGBCFinal.htm.

"It was clear from our extensive research that the increasing internationalization of the wood supply chain, the changing ownership structure of American forests, and the increasing diversity of wood certification programs globally demanded a more holistic, transparent approach," continued Owens.

The public comment period will be open until 5 p.m. PST Sept. 7. All interested stakeholders and members of the green building community are encouraged to participate. For more information, visit www.usgbc.org.

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