Guest bloggers unite, send a clear message to the USGBC [Updated]

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Are you ready for some acronym overload? This month, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) has hosted several influential members of the forestry community as guest bloggers for its campaign to gain recognition from the U.S. Green Builders Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The LEED rating system provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. The LEED rating system was developed by the USGBC in 2000 and is currently going to through the process of updating its standards. USGBC's website states that "LEED 2012 is the next step in the continuous improvement process and on-going development cycle of LEED".

Currently, the LEED system only recognizes structural wood products and paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard. SFI and other certification standards such as the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) are not currently recognized. FSC only certifies about 25% of North America's certified forests. This means wood and paper from nearly three-quarters of North America's certified forests is not eligible for the LEED structural wood certification credit. Therefore, building professionals seeking LEED certification may have to purchase wood or paper products from overseas.
 
SFI and other respected organizations are calling on the USGBC to recognize all credible certification programs used in North America for its LEED rating system – including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, American Tree Farm System, Canadian Standards Association and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The LEED Rating System Third Public Comment Period closed yesterday and members of USGBC will soon vote on the final draft of the LEED 2012 standard.
 
The guest bloggers' articles are posted on the SFI blog at www.goodforforests.com and are worth reading. Guest bloggers included Dr. Richard W. (Dick) Brinker, Dean Emeritus, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University; C. Tattersall Smith, Professor and Dean Emeritus, Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto; Robert A. (Bob) Luoto, Owner and Operator of Cross & Crown, Inc.; Larry Selzer, President and CEO, The Conservation Fund; C. Randall (Randy) Dye, President, National Association of State Foresters; William V. Street Jr., Director, Woodworkers Department, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; Mike Ferrucci, Forestry Program Manager and Lead Auditor, NSF-ISR; Michael T. Goergen Jr., Executive Vice-President and CEO, Society of American Foresters; and Dr. Laura M. Thompson, Director, Technical Marketing and Sustainable Development, Sappi Fine Paper, North America.

As a forester and someone who is proud of managing certified sustainable forests, I agree that LEED should recognize SFI and other certification standards in North America. I commented on the LEED draft last week during the public comment period. Hopefully, the USGBC will listen to the forestry community and recognize SFI, ATFS, CSA, and PEFC. If not, I will be SMH.
 
UPDATE: The LEED 2012 third round of public commenting has been extended until March 27, 2012 at 9 am ET. The final draft will be voted on in June.

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