The Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, the National Wildlife Federation and ForestEthics have joined together to run an ad (pdf) to raise awareness changes proposed to green building standards by the U.S. Green Building Council that would hinder the trend toward sustainable building construction. Since 2000, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building certification system has helped drive commercial and residential builders towards using more sustainable building and development practices. Under the LEED system, builders are rewarded with points for using green building techniques and materials, including sustainably-forested wood products, which often cost more. But changes the organization is proposing to the LEED system would erode those guidelines by rewarding builders who use wood logged from rainforests or other areas that have been devastated by clearcutting. Under the new changes, all wood would be considered good for use in construction as long as it was logged legally, without regard to forestry technique or location. This subtle but important change would hand big logging companies a victory by weakening demand for sustainably-raised forest products and encouraging builders to ignore the impacts of industrial-scale, clear-cut logging -- the very practices the LEED system was design to reduce.
By Anne Landman on November 28, 2011