The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has issued a LEED alternative compliance path (ACP) 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 illegally harvested wood from the building material’s supply chain — including the door and window industry. The ACP will apply to all LEED v4 rating systems, including Homes v4, and to all LEED 2009 rating systems.

“This is good news for the industry since SFI has been recognized as an equivalent system to the Forest Stewardship Council,” said Ray Garries of MI Windows and Doors. “Many wood door and window producers already use SFI, and this will allow wider use of this system. In the long run, this will help protect our supply chains and the forests.”

This move will also further strengthen the LEED program. It requires architects, builders and consumers to verify the legality of forest products used in LEED buildings and awards credit for the use of forest products certified to programs like SFI. In order to count towards a LEED point, the user must first know that 100 percent of the forest products are from legal sources, 70 percent are from responsible sources and the remainder are from certified sources as evidenced by a chain of custody certification (CoC).

SFI Fiber Sourcing certification counts as legal and responsible, while fiber delivered through a CoC certification counts as legal, responsible and certified sources. The new alternative compliance path recognizes SFI, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and programs that are endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The alternative compliance path categorizes the various forest certification standards based on the ASTM D7612-10 (2015) standard, “Categorizing Wood and Wood-Based Products According to Their Fiber Sources.”

“We applaud leaders from the U.S. 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.”

LEED has seven impact goals that include reversing climate change, enhancing human health, protecting water resources and biodiversity, promoting sustainable material resources, building a greener economy, and enhancing social equity and community quality of life. The SFI Standards and SFI’s supporting programs are tightly aligned with LEED’s seven core criteria. The SFI 2015-2019 Standards, launched in January 2015, include enhanced measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk and forests with exceptional conservation value.

Forests certified to the SFI Standards are found in 42 states and provinces in the U.S. and Canada.

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