U.S. hardwood forests I was so pleased to see this article about LEED on USA Today. The article by Thomas Frank lays out a clear criticism of LEED that certification doesn’t necessarily result in lower environmental impact. This echoes our views entirely. AHEC and the American hardwood industry have long welcomed increased market focus on environmental issues but it has been very disheartening to see the marketplace overwhelmed with “green washing” and dubious environmental claims, usually based on only one specific attribute such as “rapid renewability” for bamboo, or “recyclability” for steel or plastics. The true environmental impacts of materials cannot be summed up by one single attribute, and it is time that consumers and policy makers had the ability to truly compare the environmental footprint of the different products and materials they source. Reliance on science is long overdue and if green building systems and “green procurement” policies are to have any credibility, they MUST be based on science, and all materials producers MUST play by the same rules.
We now need to encourage the next logical step which is to show that LIfe Cycle Assessment (LCA) of materials as well as energy usage are the only ways the impacts of a certified building and non-certified building can be compared. Based on the report in USA Today, even the energy consumption “benefits” of LEED are in doubt when analyzed by independent, scientific research.
Note also the continuation of FSC’s claim that the FSC-only point for wood in LEED has been “one of the most significant drivers of forest conservation in history” while at the same time more points are given for concrete or steel that have “recycled content” than even for certified wood. The Seneca Creek Study includes a risk assessment for all U.S. hardwoods that is fully in accordance with the FSC methodology and yet the point is awarded for 'FSC-only'.
With high profile commentary from USA Today let's hope we are a step closer to winning this debate.