Almost since its inclusion in LEED in 2001, the materials and resources credit pertaining to certified wood products has been controversial. The credit recognizes only wood products that meet the standards of one organization—the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). But last week, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) moved a step closer to adopting new credit language that, at least in theory, could open up the rating system to other wood-certification schemes.
The revamped credit, available for review and comment at usgbc.org, is the third set of revisions released since 2008. At the heart of the proposed changes is the elimination of a specific mention of FSC. Instead, the credit outlines a “forest certification benchmark”—criteria against which any certification system could be evaluated. The benchmark has evolved since the first draft, with the latest version including a new prerequisite relating to the use of genetically modified organisms, and revised provisions regarding the rights of indigenous peoples and the governance structure of the certification organizations.