Newsletter Stories

Thursday, 14 April 2016
Pilot Testing Legality for Forest Products in LEED

April 14, 2016

FSC webinar about the LEED pilot on April 21st - Details Below.

FSC US is writing with updated information based on what we have learned since our call to action last week.

Most significantly, FSC US has confirmed with senior USGBC staff that the new pilot Alternative Compliance Pathway (ACP) credit is intended to test the viability of a prerequisite requiring legality verification in LEED.

While the pilot ACP raises serious concerns – both in its substance and in the closed-door process used to develop it – it is solely focused on legality and in no way changes USGBC’s member-approved approach to responsible forest management.

USGBC does not intend to credit legal forest management in LEED after the pilot ends. If the pilot is successful, verified legality could become a prerequisite if the USGBC membership approves it.

ASTM 7612, is absolutely not a benchmark for responsible forest management. In fact, the ASTM standard explicitly offers no judgement about forest management practices in any way. (See section 4.4 in the standard, available for purchase here)

Other information includes the following:

  • The pilot ACP is not a permanent, official part of any LEED standard. To become part of the standard, USGBC would need to hold a public consultation and its members would need to approve the change via ballot. To date, members have voted down two efforts to reduce the threshold for responsible forest management below “FSC or equivalent” standards.
  • The Materials and Resource Technical Advisory Group (MR TAG) reviewed the pilot ACP before the LEED Steering Committee approved it.
  • The MR TAG has asked to for a quarterly review of the pilot to determine whether and how it is working and the staff has agreed.
  • None of the organizations focused on legality in forest products trade, such as the World Wildlife Fund, World Resources Institute or Environmental Investigation Agency, were consulted during development of the pilot ACP.

Based on what we know now, we believe that to keep the pilot limited in time period and scope USGBC needs to hear from FSC stakeholders.

1) FSC is hosting a webinar on April 21st at 12:00pm EST. Click here to register. This will be an opportunity to hear the latest updates and ask questions.

2) Write to USGBC leadership. The Forest Stewardship Council calls on FSC Certificate Holders, supporters in the sustainable design industry, Environmental and Social Chamber Members of FSC, and business leaders to communicate the following to the US Green Building Council:

  • Legality is appropriate as a prerequisite in LEED. It is entirely wrong as a credit.
  • The scope of the pilot must be clearly limited. By testing the ACP with 100 LEED projects, USGBC can determine how it would work as a prerequisite.
  • By limiting the scope of the pilot, USGBC can determine its validity while maintaining support for the LEED program in the marketplace.
  • We encourage USGBC to engage with stakeholders to credibly address legality and strengthen its application as a prerequisite.

We encourage all stakeholders to submit letters to Rick Fedrizzi, CEO ( and Fiona Cousins, Board Chair ( at the US Green Building Council.

3) Test the pilot ACP by using FSC certified products. It is too early to know if the pilot ACP will even be practical in the LEED program. To explore whether it will work as a prerequisite, FSC calls on Sustainable Design Leaders to test it by registering for the ACP. And because FSC meets USGBC member intent and aligns the organization’s mission and values, we strongly encourage architects to use FSC certified products in satisfaction of the requirements of the pilot ACP.

FSC strongly supports efforts to screen out illegal forest products from the LEED program by making legality verification a prerequisite. But legal forestry is not the same as responsible forest management, and it should not be enough to meet credit requirements in LEED.

LEED was designed to transform markets and drive higher levels of environmental performance. Requiring legal forest products as a prerequisite is an important step in the right direction. But providing a credit for legal forestry in LEED, especially one that replaces high standards and responsible forest management, is irresponsible, damaging to USGBC’s credibility and a black mark against the LEED program.

Read FSC’s call to action here.

For more information, click here.

Updated April 14, 2016