The U.S. Green Building Council has opened the First 30-day Public Comment Period for proposed changes in how the LEED Green Building Rating System™ awards points for the use of certified wood. 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:
GovernanceTechnical/Standards SubstanceAccreditation and AuditingChain 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.
USGBC 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 to the public 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.
USGBC began the process of re-examining the wood certification in 2006, when its Board of Directors charged the LEED Steering Committee to study the question and propose revised credit language, if appropriate. This focused work followed on the 2004 efforts of the Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group (MR TAG) to introduce a new version of the wood certification credit as a part of the v2.1 update to the LEED rating system, which was ultimately set aside due to timing issues in the face of an overwhelming response to the question.
The public comment period will be open for 30 days from Friday, August 8, until 5 PM PST Sunday, September 7, 2008.
All interested stakeholders and members of the green building community are encouraged to participate. For more information visit www.usgbc.org.