USGBC Announces New LEED Pilot ACP Designed to Help Eliminate Irresponsibly Sourced Materials—Like Illegal Wood—From the Building Material Supply Chain | U.S. Green Building Council
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Washington, DC(April 5, 2016)Today, USGBC announced the quarterly addenda to the LEED green building rating system, which includes a new pilot Alternative Compliance Path (ACP) credit that is designed to further advance environmentally responsible forest management and help rid our buildings of illegal wood by promoting the use of wood that is verified to be legal. The pilot ACP builds on the robust infrastructure that has been built around responsible wood sourcing and chain of custody to test an approach to prerequisite requirements, which could serve as a model for other building materials.  

This new pilot ACP is applicable to both LEED 2009 and LEED v4 systems. While LEED has always rewarded leadership in materials specification, this new ACP seeks to leverage LEED’s unparalleled market power by focusing attention on the significant need for more comprehensive and effective legality verification of building products. The pilot ACP is designed to address a critical piece of the supply chain and reward project teams who proactively verify that the wood they are using is legal. 

“Healthy, vibrant forests are an essential piece of life as we know it,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “LEED has made tremendous strides by promoting leadership on sourcing of forestry products. We want LEED to also be a significant driver for stopping illegal logging. As we have begun looking at approaches to incentivize responsible sourcing of all materials that go into our buildingssuch as concrete, steel, copper and other materialswe recognize the need to address both the toprewarding the best—as well as the bottom by eliminating unacceptable practices.”

Over the last 15 years, the green building industry has invested a significant amount of resources related to responsible procurement of forest products, which have taken up the vast majority of the debate about raw materials sourcing.

“This focus of the green building industry on the various wood certification standards has produced measurable progress,” added Fedrizzi. “With the pilot ACP, we are increasing the scope of LEED related to wood with an eye toward possibly applying what we learn to other industries. Beyond this credit, LEED v4 takes steps to reward progress related to all raw materials sourcing issues and encourage all sectors to continue to improve.” 

“Today, it is possible to achieve the LEED wood credit and still have illegal wood in a LEED certified project,” said Scot Horst, chief product officer, USGBC. “This is because LEED projects receive credit for a percentage of the wood on the project, rather than on all wood used. LEED is a global standard with a vision of market transformation. Addressing the illegal wood issue in LEED projects, especially in projects outside of the U.S., comes at a critical time both for the global issue of illegal logging and unfair forestry practices and also for LEED and its growing influence.” 

The LEED green building certification system is the world’s most widely used program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of green buildings. Today, there are nearly 75,000 commercial projects participating in LEED across the globe, with 1.85 million square feet of building space becoming LEED-certified every day. 

Green construction is a large economic driver. According to the 2015 USGBC Green Building Economic Impact Study, green construction will account for more than 3.3 million U.S. jobs—more than one-third of the entire U.S. construction sector—and generate $190.3 billion in labor earnings. The industry’s direct contribution to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) is also expected to reach $303.5 billion from 2015–2018. For more information about the LEED credits, visit: www.usgbc.org/LEED.

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Total 10 commentsLeave a comment

LEED & Construction Administration , Bywater Woodworks, Inc.
I'd like to obtain the required documentation from our wood suppliers but honestly can't say I'd ask a lumber yard salesman for a piece of paper stating compliance with the ASTM referenced Standard because I'm certain they will not have that and not call or email me back if I call/email them for that. What exact document(s) am I to request of the lumber yard salesperson for our purchases? Thanks,
LEED Specialist, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi Debra - Thanks for your question! The pilot credit calculator (http://www.usgbc.org/resources/legal-wood-pilot-acp-calculator) includes a list of certification programs that meet ASTM D7612-10 requirements for Legal Sources and/or Responsible Sources and are eligible for the credit. Please refer to the "validation" tab of the calculator, which has a handy table noting whether each program qualifies as a Legal, Responsible, and/or Certified source. We recommend requesting compliance documentation for one or more of these programs from your lumber supplier. If you have additional questions, please let us know (http://www.usgbc.org/contact).
I would like to know the following: - Is your goal to test a prerequisite to verify legality for wood products in LEED? - Are you following normal protocol for this pilot ACP and constraining it to 100 registered projects? - If not, what constraints are you placing on the pilot ACP? - What is the process once the pilot closes? - What is required to create a new prerequisite in LEED? - When will you issue guidance about the pilot ACP to clarify what it requires?
Chief of Engineering, U.S. Green Building Council
hi brad - thanks for the interest in this important issue. hoping my answers to your questions help you and others understand our goals here: - Is your goal to test a prerequisite to verify legality for wood products in LEED? yes - prerequisites require extensive testing before being included in the rating system. this pilot will help us understand whether a prerequisite for legality verification of materials is feasible. - Are you following normal protocol for this pilot ACP and constraining it to 100 registered projects? we have followed the normal protocol for pilot/pilot acp development - however, 'constraining' this to 100 projects preemptively is not normal protocol for pilots or pilot acps. - If not, what constraints are you placing on the pilot ACP? the mr tag and pilot credit committee have requested updates on acp usage based on both time and participation. we'll be reviewing this pilot quarterly and each time 100, 250 and 500 projects register. - What is the process once the pilot closes? this is a pilot test of an idea. the goal is to learn how leed can play a role in combatting illegal wood in the buildings industry and illegal materials more generally. it is too early to speculate what will happen during the pilot or prescribe steps beyond where we are right now. - What is required to create a new prerequisite in LEED? the creation of a new prerequisite requires approval by usgbc member ballot after completion of the formal public comment process described in the leed foundations document. - When will you issue guidance about the pilot ACP to clarify what it requires? as we gather feedback from project teams.
Director of Sustainable Education, GreenCE, Inc.
Building Green has a couple of good pieces on this, and it sounds like there is no time or quantity cap on this ACP, with the only requirement that it be revisited at 100-projects and again at 250-projects.
Director of Sustainable Education, GreenCE, Inc.
From the article: "Over the last 15 years, the green building industry has invested a significant amount of resources related to responsible procurement of forest products, which have taken up the vast majority of the debate about raw materials sourcing." . . . . . . . . . Yes, and the consensus had been to reject SFI as an equivalent to FSC.
Director of Sustainable Education, GreenCE, Inc.
FSC has posted a comprehensive response to this development on their website at https://us.fsc.org/en-us/newsroom/newsletter/id/933
Hello, We would like to know why this initiative is called a pilot? Thank you
Pilot credits allow USGBC to test new ideas before making changes to the LEED standard. USGBC has indicated they intend for the new ACP to become a prerequisite, which means that all LEED projects would need to verify the legality of wood products used. This would be a step in the right direction. Then the existing credit - Responsible Sourcing of Raw Materials in LEED v4 and MRc7 in LEED 2009 - would maintain the credit for use of products from responsibly managed forests.
IT Infrastructure Manager, Ernst & Young LLP
I agree, Brad, and piloting this will help USGBC assess how much difficult is, how much additional effort and money is needed and even if it's feasible at all per different geographic areas. I believe you could come up with some places where large part of projects fail to meet source requirements and this could be in turn a credit for a little longer instead of a requirement. While I see, for example, Brazil as large unlawful deforestation country, a local home standard adaptation from GBC Brasil demands 100% certified wood under FSC with documentation confirming compliance. I am not sure if this is enough to make all used wood legal on those projects, but it should have a positive impact on home construction market if owners and contractors increase procurement on the market.

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