U.S. Environmental Groups Express Concern Over the U.S. Green Building Council’s Approach to Forests

Greenpeace USA, joined by Natural Resources Defense Council, Rainforest Action Network, Stand (formerly ForestEthics), National Wildlife Federation, Dogwood Alliance, Healthy Building Network, and Sierra Club signed a statement regarding the recent surprise move regarding certified wood products by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the organization in charge of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The groups criticized the USGBC for potentially opening the door to recognize and give credit to wood products certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the weak certification scheme that is backed by the logging industry. For years, SFI was rightfully not recognized under LEED. SFI does not represent the type of environmental leadership that LEED aims for. As our groups say in the statement, SFI is “an industry-governed and financed greenwash system that seeks to pass off environmentally destructive industrial forestry as somehow ‘sustainable.'”

To recognize SFI would mean that LEED would recognize the replacement of complex forest ecosystems with monocultures, and logging that harms water quality and jeopardizes already imperiled fish and wildlife. We, as groups, also noted that SFI does not require the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples when logging on their lands.

This decision has disappointed the environmental community both in terms of substance and process. As Jim Ace from Stand wrote in a recent blog: “This is no time for USGBC to abandon its legacy of collaboration, transparency, and  leadership.” You can download the full statement here.

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