Petition Demands Change to the Green Building Rating System

WASHINGTON, DC—April 5, 2010—An online petition demanding changes to the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standard is receiving tremendous support. Since launching on March 16, 2010, the petition has over 5,000 signatures from across the globe. The petition calls on the USGBC to open LEED to all “wood and paper products certified to independent, respected and credible standards including SFI, ATFS, CSA, FSC and PEFC.” Currently LEED only recognizes certified products from one standard. The petition was launched by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

“Our online petition has sparked a groundswell of support, providing a collective voice to the vast community of those who care deeply about sustainable forestry and feel strongly that USGBC should open LEED to SFI and other credible forest certification standards,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. “The thousands who have signed this petition are joined by many forestry and sustainability experts in demanding change.”

In fact, National Association of State Foresters (NASF) President Steven Koehn recently put out a letter on behalf of his organization to the U.S. Green Building Council in support of opening LEED. Additionally, Michael Goergen, president of the Society of American Foresters, penned an op-ed in today’s The Seattle Times voicing his support for LEED becoming more inclusive.

Even government leaders are stepping up in support of opening LEED. In a letter to USGBC expressing concern with USGBC’s bias towards FSC, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty stated, “Recognizing only FSC-certified wood in the LEED benchmarks will result in discrimination against wood products derived from well-managed lands in green building projects. The USGBC should fairly assess and include all credible forest certification programs, including SFI and ATFS systems.”

More than three-quarters of North American certified forests are certified to standards not currently recognized by the USGBC, including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), American Tree Farm System (ATFS), and Canadian Standards Association (CSA). At this time LEED only recognizes FSC certification, which accounts for less than one quarter of the North American certified lands. The majority of FSC’s certifications are outside of Canada and the USA. An unintended consequence of the USGBC’s current policy is that builders, architects and designers seeking the LEED forest certification credit cannot get credit for the vast majority of certified domestic sources of supply. “It is counterintuitive that green building discriminates against domestic sources of supply and we hope that the USGBC will come to realize that this doesn’t make strong environmental, economic or social sense,” Abusow said.

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