Thursday, December 17, 2009

Family Owned Forests On Green Building Radar Screen

What follows is a summary of the American Forest Foundations President and CEO, Tom Martin.  Recently Tom had an opportunity to present at the Greenbuild convention in Phoenix.  Many of the key decisionmakers were in attendance.  The current standard fails to recognize the largest block of woodland owners....that being private non-industrial owners.  Currently it is estimated that there are now more than 750,000 woodland owners in Pennsylvania alone.  The standard also treats wood less favorably than any other building material.  This is a concern since wood is the most "renewable" source.

At the forum I had the opportunity to speak and reinforce that message to 15 members of the USGBC Board of Directors and members of the technical advisory committee. I also raised other concerns like:

• how under their system, wood, the most renewable building material, was treated more poorly than any other building material.
• their failure to recognize that the three certification systems in the US - Tree Farm, SFI and FSC are substantially equivalent in creating sustainable forest practices and LEED should just recognize them all.
• the landscape-scale management requirements that would be unrealistically imposed on small woodland owners.
• the blanket prohibition on the use of GMOs which might inadvertently create a market disincentive to use genetics to fight invasive pests and pathogens.

The meeting ended on a couple of positive notes. First, it's likely that there will be another proposed revision to the standards --- and thus another chance for them to get it right. Second, USGBC will pilot test a life cycle analysis tool in 2010 for the major building materials group - which if done with scientific integrity can demonstrate the outstanding value wood brings to green building. Finally, I invited the chair of the technical committee working on this to visit an American Tree Farm System woodland to see sustainable practices at work.

You will no doubt hear from us in the months to come as we continue to battle on this issue, but I wanted to let you know your work on this issue is having an impact.

We also sent a formal letter to USGBC's President, which you can read by clicking here.
(Edited from the American Forest Foundation 12/16/09)

1 comment:

Peg Shuffstall said...

Bill and I are forest land owners. Let us know if we can do anything to help