‘LEED is a laggard, rather than a leader’: SFI CEO

Posted by Rumin Mann
October 8th, 2010

The green building standard by which the City of Vancouver and hundreds of other municipalities measure the environmental performance of new construction is falling behind rival green building standards in the way it rates wood, according to the CEO of the world’s largest forest certification program.

“The vast majority of rating tools around the world do recognize multiple forestry certification standards, do look at multiple attributes where wood gets its fair share,” Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), told the U.S.-based group’s annual conference in Vancouver on Wednesday.

Abusow named the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) and Built Green Canada among emerging standards that recognize the environmental benefits of wood, with less emphasis on of how that wood was grown and harvested.

The American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) green building standards, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) standard for high-performance buildings, and certain American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards are among other organizations that recognize wood certified by SFI and other certifiers.

“However, the USGBC’s [U.S. Green Building Council] LEED standard recognizes only FSC [Forest Stewardship Council],” said the president of SFI, a rival program.

“It’s pretty clear that LEED is an outlier, that LEED is a laggard rather than a leader when it comes to wood recognition and forest certification,” Abusow said.

Abusow briefed her members on the latest rounds in the long struggle between the two leading forest certification programs.

Her organization, SFI, which has roots in the forest products industry, is engaged in a bitter struggle with the rival FSC, which has roots in the environmental movement, for access to the LEED standard, which is set by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

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