Technical Updates

Monday, 15 July 2013
FSC International welcomes US Green Building Council's approval of LEED v4

FSC International welcomes this good news from FSC US In June 2013, after three years, six comment periods and plenty of robust debate, the members of the US Green Building Council approved LEED v4, with 86 percent voting in support of the new standard.

FSC US staff, board and stakeholders worked tirelessly to achieve a positive outcome for years, and were heartened by the result.
For the FSC community, the key credit in LEED v4 is known as “Building product disclosure and optimization – sourcing of raw materials” (MRc3). This credit contains two options, with the second focused on “leadership extraction practices.”

To receive the credit, a project must use “at least 25%, by cost, of the total value of permanently installed building products.” For wood products, the credit requires products “certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or USGBC-approved equivalent.” Reused or recycled materials are the other primary means for achievement of this credit. Products sourced within 100 miles are valued at 200% of their cost.

During the LEED v4 comment periods, there was intense debate about how high to set the bar for materials and resources. As a leadership standard, FSC argued for maintaining a high bar, using the credit to require key environmental protections and recognize the top performers in any given sector. Employing an oft-stated rule of thumb, if more than 25% of the market achieves a leadership standard, it’s time to raise the bar.

FSC appreciated that USGBC members recognize the importance of high standards to create incentives for leadership practices. Every day, 140,000 square meters of building is certified to LEED standards, so there was much at stake in the decision.

With the debate over LEED v4 standards now settled, FSC expects companies in the FSC marketplace – from San Francisco to Minneapolis to Boston – to benefit from a new level of certainty and demand in the green building sector. And LEED v4 will serve as a model for green building councils around the world, including Brazil, China and India.

Businesses across the supply chain, including forest landowners, mills and lumberyards, that have been waiting on the sidelines to see how the debate would resolve, will now have greater incentive to earn FSC certification.

Throughout the comment periods many FSC-certified companies, members and sustainable design leaders submitted comments to USGBC in support of high standards for forest products in LEED v4. These voices were heard, and the results might have been very different without their tireless efforts. FSC International and FSC US offers their sincere thanks to everyone who invested time and energy in the process.

Learn more about LEED v4 at the USGBC website, and read about the vote here and here.

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