News Analysis

USGBC Revising Forest Certification Benchmark for LEED

The U.S. Green Building Council has opened recent revisions to the LEED certified wood credit to public comment.

A second public comment period for the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) treatment of forest certification in the LEED Rating System is open until October 14, 2009. At issue is a collection of criteria that USGBC will use to evaluate forest certification programs to gain recognition in LEED. The first public comment period (see EBN Sept. 2008) attracted nearly 1,800 comments; guided by that input, the Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group (chaired until recently by BuildingGreen’s Nadav Malin) revised, and the LEED Steering Committee approved, a new approach to the USGBC Forest Certification Benchmark.

The new benchmark abandons the all-or-nothing approach from the previous draft, under which a certification scheme had to meet all the specific guidelines to be approved for use in LEED. Instead it introduces a LEED-like structure of 48 prerequisites and 32 credits. To count towards the credit a certification scheme would have to meet all the prerequisites and 40% of the credits in the Benchmark. Even more significant than this structural change, however, is the comprehensive rewriting of the individual prerequisites and credits, making them much clearer and less ambiguous. Some new items include encouraging forest managers to calculate and consider carbon sequestration in their forest management plans. The Benchmark includes items that address all aspects of certification programs, including governance, labeling, auditing, and standards of forest management.

Published September 25, 2009

Wilson, A. (2009, September 25). USGBC Revising Forest Certification Benchmark for LEED. Retrieved from