The US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification has received ample backlash from the lumber industry. The certification, which is rooted in a point-value system, awards a LEED point for using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified lumber. The problem is that this is an international standard, for which very little lumber is produced on US soil. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative, another certification for sustainable wood products, is 100% based in North America, but is not acknowledged by LEED.
The lack of options for certified lumber has led to supposed "Wood Wars" in which certain states and legislative bodies have moved to ban LEED. The latest version of LEED, which requires lumber “certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or USGBC-approved equivalent," apparently does not provide approved equivalents to the FSC certification. As a state with a vibrant timber industry, Maine Governor Paul LePage acted to require green building certifications to incorporate three forestry standards. While unsuccessful, the US Military received Republican support to ban the LEED certification.
The Wood Wars continue in Georgia, where Republican leaders have made clear in recent years they do not support the LEED standard based on its discrimination against Georgia's lumber industry, which is largely non-FSC certified pine forests used to make pulpwood. Georgia Republican Senator Dean Burke has sponsored a bill that would make applying LEED certification to state buildings illegal. The bill, Georgia General Assembly House Bill 255, would require any green certification program used on state buildings to acknowledge Georgia lumber as sustainable. It would apply to all Georgia-owned buildings, but lawmakers who oppose the bill note that using local lumber to achieve the LEED certification is not at all impossible. As it's unlikely USGBC will in any way alter the point-awarding system, some say the bill is much ado about nothing.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal will now have his say.