Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered state agencies to broaden eligibility guidelines of timber in government buildings to include those sourced from forests certified by alternative programs, effectively banning a controversial green building program that recognizes only one certification standard.
Designed to increase the level of Georgia-produced timber in government construction, Deal signed on Friday an executive order stipulating that any new or expanded state building “recogniz[e] all forest certifications equally.”
A report issued last year by the United States Forest Service revealed 24.4 million acres of the state’s entire 37 million acres of land area is timberland available for commercial use.
But much of that timber is necessarily excluded from application in state and federal buildings because the standards to which it was certified is not recognized by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, which 34 state governments and 14 federal agencies or departments mandate adherence.
LEED recognizes only one certification system, the Forest Stewardship Council, that accounts for less than one quarter of the nation’s certified forests and is partial to environmentalists.
The green building program’s preference for FSC, and in turn the monopoly on which the it has on state and federal governments, has created unfair, artificial barriers to sustainable forests and the economic health of the state, the executive order said.
“Recognizing all forest certifications equally will help promote sustainable forestry in the State and Georgia and help create thousands of jobs while maintaining our strong outdoor heritage,” the executive order read. “Therefore … the design, construction and maintenance of any new or expanded state building shall incorporate ‘Green Building’ standards that give certification credits equally to forest products grown, manufactured and certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the American Tree Farm System and the Forest Stewardship Council.”
The executive order largely mirrored one issued earlier this year by Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who likewise forswore LEED for its sole reliance on FSC certification standards.
This post was originally posted on the Georgia Tipsheet.