Design Sustainable Forestry Initiative lumber

Published on September 30th, 2014 | by Dawn Killough


Sustainable Forestry Initiative Recognized By BREEAM

Sustainable Forestry Initiative lumber

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) has been recognized by green building rating system BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) for its ability to allow the construction industry to responsibly source forest products. Their efforts to make one of the greenest building elements- wood!- even greener are definitely worth taking notice of!

According to the BREEAM website, its “assessment uses recognized measures of performance, which are set against established benchmarks, to evaluate a building’s specification, design, construction, and use.”

“The measures used represent a broad range of categories and criteria from energy to ecology. They include aspects related to energy and water use, the internal environment (health and well-being), pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes,” says Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI, Inc. “We are extremely pleased to be recognized by BREEAM. The responsible sourcing of materials is an increasingly important element of sustainable construction. It includes resource stewardship, corporate responsibility and sustainable procurement issues throughout the supply chain from landowners to brand owners.”

BREEAM’s recognition of Sustainable Forestry Initiative certified lumber joins the growing list of standards and organizations that continue to recognize the merits of all forest certification programs. Organizations like the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, The Sustainability Consortium, GreenBlue and the National Association of State Foresters; and green building tools like the International Green Construction Code, Built Green Canada, and the ANSI accredited Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes standard.

Alan Yates, the Technical Director of Sustainability at BRE Global — an independent, third-party approvals organization that oversees BREEAM –  said, “Our approach provides a way of comparing the rigor and robustness of the various responsible sourcing standards against a single common set of criteria. SFI meets a common set of requirements based on current best practice.” BREEAM also recognizes the Forest Stewardship Council and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). In 2005, the SFI program was endorsed by PEFC. This endorsement adds international value to SFI Inc.’s position as a third-party certification program in North America.

There has been a bit of controversy in the last few months regarding the status of SFI and FSC lumber in some of the most popular green building rating systems, like LEED.  It will be interesting to see where this all leads.


Source | Photo: PR NewswireBLMOregon via photopin cc

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About the Author

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon. She is currently a Contract Administrator at Rich Duncan Construction.  



    In my humble opinion, while FSC is not perfect, SFI is pretty weak in regards to really safegarding our forests! So how would one explane that, FSC prohibits the use of genetically-modified organisms; SFI allows their use?

    FSC prohibits the use of persistent and/or bioaccumulative pesticides; SFI recommends “prudent” use of pesticides?

    FSC prohibits the conversion of natural forest to plantations; SFI allows that conversion and the certification of wood from those forests?

    FSC’s standards were developed by a broad range of stakeholders, including environmental and human rights activists and forest products representatives; SFI was developed exclusively by the forest products industries?

    FSC’s audit results are made public and can be appealed; SFI’s audit results are private and cannot be appealed?

    And how can you explane that Seven More Brands Distanced Themselves from ‘Sustainable Forestry Initiative’ ( As Lloyd Alter explanes in his article below; SFI and Green Globes were founded but the lumber industry for one reason and one reason only: to stop the spread of FSC and LEED. They may apear to be succeeding.


    Just a thought from a “Certified Sustainable Building Advisor”.

  • I think that the points you raise are extremely important. We need to look at who is determining what is “green” and what their motives are. There has already been a lot of mud slinging between LEED and Green Globes, as we’ve documented here on GBE. The FSC vs SFI issue has been going on since LEED first recognized FSC as it’s sole certified lumber. I would like to take a closer look at the points you raise with regards to SFI vs FSC. Will put that on my post calendar and get to it soon. Thanks for reading!

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