Maine Governor Paul LePage signed an executive order recently directing that “any new or expanded state buildings shall incorporate ‘Green Building’ standards that give certification credits equally to forest products grown, manufactured, and certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard, Forest Stewardship Council, American Tree Farm System for the Endorsement of Forest Certification systems.”

“This policy is great news for North American communities and shows that the Governor and people of Maine are true leaders by being the first jurisdiction in North America to take this important position,” said Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® Inc. (SFI Inc.) “Inclusive and leading programs such as ANSI/GBI 01-2010: Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings and the ANSI/ICC 700-2008: National Green Building Standard for residential construction would meet the requirements set out for state construction in Maine. However, green building rating tools like the US Green Building Council’s LEED rating tools that do not recognize forest certification equally would not meet the requirements of this executive order, in our opinion.”

The Maine Executive Order comes after 100 Members of Congress and Governors, and more than 6,000 individuals around the world, encouraged the USGBC to reward wood from North American forests by equally recognizing SFI, ATFS, CSA, PEFC and FSC in their LEED rating system, according to the SFI release. “Currently, the LEED rating tool fails to recognize nearly three-quarters of North America’s certified forests leaving builders to give preference to FSC wood offshore over SFI certified wood in North America. Maine’s forest-products industry has an enormous impact on the state’s economy. It directly and indirectly supports 55,000 jobs, annually creates more than $3 billion in earning and contributes $4.3 billion annually to Maine gross domestic product.

“With a 2012 version of LEED currently undergoing development, these recent announcements provide a timely and powerful incentive for the USGBC to recognize all forest certification standards equally,” said Abusow.

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