Open Letter from SFI CEO Kathy Abusow to USGBC: Top Ten Reasons for LEED to Recognize All Forest Certification Standards

Apr 12, 2012, 10:31 ET from Sustainable Forestry Initiative

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Yesterday SFI President & CEO Kathy Abusow sent a letter on the LEED Standard to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Board of Directors and MR TAG members, urging them to "encourage USGBC to make a decision that supports the future of our forests" by recognizing "the value of all forest certification programs," including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).  The full letter is available here.  Quoting from a diverse group of stakeholders, Abusow outlines the Top Ten reasons for LEED to stop the exclusion of wood products from well-managed North American forests. Here are some excerpts from the list:

1. Say "Yes" to healthy working forests. Ninety percent of the world's forests are NOT certified. By recognizing all credible forest certification standards, USGBC will drive demand for more certified forests and responsible sources of supply.

2. Say "No" to discrimination against domestic forests. Under the current standard, three-quarters of certified forests in North America are denied access to LEED. In fact, 90 percent of FSC's global supply is from countries outside of the U.S., where USGBC is headquartered. USGBC's "FSC or better" language might discourage builders, architects and designers from sourcing domestic wood products.

3. Follow the lead provided by USGBC sister organizations in Australia, Italy and Spain. The Green Building Council of Australia, Building Council Italia, and the Spanish Green Building Council have all taken steps to give credit to all forest certification standards.  In fact, all green building standards that value wood have recognized all forest certification programs without preference.

4. Support North America's forest communities and workers. Union leaders have spoken out in support of recognizing all credible forest certification standards.

5. Base LEED on science, not slogans, and encourage continual improvement and research. SFI requires in-kind support or direct funding for research as a requirement of its standard. FSC does not. Since 1995, SFI program participants have invested $1.2 billion in forest research activities which in turn have driven innovation and conservation in forest management.

6. Recognize forest communities and the contributions of indigenous forest communities. SFI supports responsible forestry at a local level in North America. There are close to 1,000 members in 37 community-based SFI Implementation Committees that support and actively engage in a wide variety of community, conservation and outreach activities.

7. Reward sound harvesting practices. Since 1995, more than 130,000 resource and logging professionals have been trained in responsible forestry through SFI or its recognition of other programs.

8. Consider the wider impact of your actions. This goes beyond solid wood products. Even paper and tissue markets are affected by LEED rating tools that give credits if FSC products are supplied in the operation of LEED buildings.

9. Heed the calls of 100 elected officials. In a public blog, USGBC's President singled out and thanked ForestEthics for their "passionate views," despite the fact these unaccountable market campaigners are funded to promote FSC and undermine SFI. Yet, USGBC has not given the same public consideration to the views of a bipartisan group of elected officials.

10. Let competition and choice prevail. SFI supports green building and the recognition of multiple forest certification standards. USGBC is a market influencer and as such the LEED rating tool has the ability to continue to undermine responsible forestry and the jobs and communities that depend on them.  USGBC, however, is able to make a decision that will positively impact the future of our forests by recognizing and rewarding credits to products from certified forests and other responsible sources of supply. The future of our forests depends on decisions made today.

About SFI Inc.
SFI Inc. ( is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, and is solely responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving the internationally recognized Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program. Across North America, more than 195 million acres/79 million hectares are certified to the SFI forest management standard, making it the largest single forest standard in the world.



SOURCE Sustainable Forestry Initiative