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Pennsylvania Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee Second Quarter Updates

Posted: July 14, 2016

US Green Building Council Announces New Pathway to Encourage Environmentally Responsible Forest Management in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

The range of legal and responsible forest products available for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credit has grown in a positive direction. This is welcome news for architects, builders, and consumers seeking legal, responsibly sourced, and certified forest products from well-managed forests.

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) has issued a LEED alternative compliance path that recognizes wood and paper from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Program as part of an integrated approach to encouraging environmentally responsible forest management and eliminating illegal wood from the building material’s supply chain.

“We applaud leaders from the US Green Building Council as this change across all LEED rating tools takes a stance against illegal wood and reinforces the value of certified and responsibly sourced forest products,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI Inc. “SFI employs rigorous standards that ensure not only a responsibly managed forest, but also that only legal sources of fiber are brought into SFI-certified supply chains.”

Wood is an increasingly popular choice for construction because of its aesthetic qualities and numerous environmental benefits — including renewability and a lower carbon footprint than other materials. Because trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, they sequester and store carbon, reducing greenhouse gases, improving air quality, and reducing the construction sector’s contribution to global climate change. Many of wood’s positive attributes depend in part on whether the forest resource is responsibly managed and renewed. Third-party forest certification standards like those used by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative offer a proof point that the forest has been managed for multiple environmental, social, and economic values – today and into the future.

The new LEED alternative compliance path pilot recognizes SFI, the American Tree Farm System, and programs that are endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.

Forests certified to the SFI Standards are found in forty-two states and provinces in the US and Canada. Pennsylvania currently has just over 105,000 acres and one wood manufacturing mill certified to the SFI program standards.

Ultimately, SFI’s success under the LEED pilot program will depend on demand from the people in the design and construction community who are pursuing LEED credits. Before the USGBC decides to issue an updated version of LEED, it always examines who is using the credits and assesses demand for them. If the SFI community comes together to encourage the use of wood and paper products certified to SFI in LEED projects, it will ensure SFI is recognized in the next version of LEED.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee, please visit the website or call 888-734-9366.

Contact Information

Chuck Coup
  • Pennsylvania SFI Implementation Committee Program Manager