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Old Tensions Resurface Over LEED Credit

A new LEED credit for certified products is stirring up old debates over wood certification programs.

The pilot Certified Products credit was released earlier this month. It gives points to projects in which at least 10 percent of non-structural products are certified to third-party performance standards, have third-party verified environmental claims, or have a verified lifecycle assessment report or Environmental Product Declaration, Sustainable Industries reports.

But Jason Grant of the Sierra Club Forest Certification Team, quoted in Treehugger, said this change will allow projects to earn points for products verified by any of the five major forest certification systems – even though last December, U.S. Green Building Council members voted to give points only to wood carrying the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal.

At the time, USGBC senor vice president for LEED Scot Horst said described the debate as a “source of tremendous tension for USGBC members and industry professionals alike”.

Now, Grant says, “Note that fully 30 standards are pre-approved in this pilot credit – not including all five forest certification systems… Perhaps they should dispense with the Standard for Standards and go with the Krusty Brand Seal of Approval instead, with that catchy slogan: ‘It’s not just good – it’s good enough!'”

But the new credit differs from the lumber-sourcing credit in several respects. The Certified Products credit is explicitly focused on non-structural products. Chris Nelson, director of commercial development for UL Environment, tells Sustainable Industries that the products that could count towards the credit include gypsum board, office furniture, carpet, insulation, heating and cooling systems.

And rather than focus on environmental attributes, the new credit is about transparency, Building Green reports. “This credit is about identifying certification types, nothing about our preferences about them,” Whit Faulconer, director of LEED, explained to the site’s Environmental Building News.

That is why, he said, that the new credit can only award one point – because actual environmental performance is rewarded elsewhere in the LEED system.

UL Environment is holding a free webinar on the new credit on June 28.

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One thought on “Old Tensions Resurface Over LEED Credit

  1. To say “even though last December, U.S. Green Building Council members voted to give points only to wood carrying the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal” is incorrect. All forest certification systems advocated voting against the proposed changes, so this doesn’t have anything to do with voting for or against FSC.

    It should also be noted that only 2% of the members of USGBC voted, so while certain parts of the trade press and the media seemed to be hooked on the “FSC vs SFI” topic, its really a non-issue among USGBC members.

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