USGBC Members Approve LEED v4

July 12, 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. The Forest Stewardship Council congratulates the members, board and staff of USGBC for their hard work, perseverance and leadership.

The Certified Wood Credit in LEED has arguably been the single most important driver of forest conservation in history, contributing to tens of millions of acres of improved management and protection. And when it comes from an FSC-certified responsibly managed forest, wood is among the most sustainable building materials. So people working to promote forest health should be heartened that LEED v4 will continue promoting responsible forest management and incentivizing forest conservation.

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 appreciates that USGBC members recognize the importance of high standards to create incentives for leadership practices. With the debate over LEED v4 standards now settled, we expect 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. We also know there are businesses, including forest landowners, mills and lumberyards, that have been waiting on the sidelines to see how the debate would resolve before committing to FSC certification.

If your company is interested in becoming FSC certified, you can learn more here.