The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently announced a new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) pilot alternative compliance path (ACP) it says will “get rid of irresponsibly sourced building materials, such as wood.”
The ACP credit is designed to further advance environmentally responsible forest management and help rid buildings of illegal wood by promoting the use of legally verified lumber, including material certified by the Sustainable Foresty Initiative (SFI) program. (Previously, the rating system only recognized the Forest Stewardship Council [FSC].)
The move seeks to leverage LEED’s market power by focusing on the importance for more comprehensive and effective legality verification. The ACP is designed to address a critical piece of the supply chain and reward project teams who proactively verify the wood they use is legal.
“Healthy, vibrant forests are an essential piece of life as we know it,” said USGBC’s CEO, Rick Fedrizzi. “LEED has made tremendous strides by promoting leadership on sourcing forestry products. We want LEED to also be a significant driver for stopping illegal logging. As we have begun looking at approaches to incentivize responsible sourcing of all materials that go into our building—such as concrete, copper, steel, and other materials—we recognize the need to address both the top and bottom by eliminating unacceptable practices. This focus of the green building industry on the various wood certification standards has produced measurable progress.”
The pilot is applicable to both LEED 2009 and LEED v4 systems.
Both FSC and SFI had responses to this announcement, which is expected to have a major impact on the use of forest products in sustainable projects. FSC has since stated it believes USGBC “does not intend to credit legal forest management in LEED after the pilot ends. If the pilot is successful, verified legality could become a prerequisite if the USGBC membership approves it.”