Maine and Georgia Eliminate FSC’s Exclusivity for “Green” Building Construction

During this past year, with minimal fanfare, the governors of Maine and Georgia each issued Executive Orders that basically eliminated the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) monopoly as the only forest certification standard recognized when specifying wood products to be used in “green” construction.  FSC’s prominence within the design and construction community is tied directly to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system, which established FSC as the bell cow for promoting responsible forest management.

The direct result of these Orders was the immediate recognition of a variety of long-standing forest certification programs  that include: the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the American Tree Farm System, and in Maine, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).  Both Orders are mirror images in content and apply only to state building construction, for both new building and expanded structures, and includes “any building owned, constructed, or acquired by the State or any department, office, board, commission, or agency thereof, including state-supported institutions of higher learning.”

The Executive Orders further state that “recognizing all of these certifications equally will help promote sustainable forest and help protect and develop thousands of good jobs while maintaining our strong outdoor heritage.”

While the U.S. Green Building Council has opened up the LEED certification program for comment on a number of occasions, the organization has stood fast behind FSC as the only forest-certifying body through several versions of the standard.

While Maine and Georgia are the first states to take this measure, more than a dozen governors in other forest economic significant states have been vocal with USGBC urging changes to the treatment of forest products under LEED to recognize other credible standards.  Click on each state to read the complete 2-page Executive Order from Maine and Georgia.