Green Materials Report: FSC Certified Lumber

FSC certified lumber

This post is part of the Green Materials Report series.  GBE is providing information on various building materials and what makes them green.  Each post focuses on one material.  We will be looking at the ingredients in the material, how it is used, what makes it green, and any green product certifications that it has earned.  We hope to develop a database of information to help consumers make informed choices about what goes in their buildings.  Enjoy the series!

FSC certified lumberFSC Certified Lumber

FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified lumber is harvested from special forests that are managed with the environment and sustainability in mind.  Lumber from FSC certified forests is handled separately and stored separately from regular wood products.  Each company that handles FSC certified lumber has to be certified to do so, and must maintain a chain of custody record, so that one particular piece of wood can be traced from the forest to its end use.  It is the only sustainable forestry product certification that LEED recognizes.

What Makes It Green

Sustainably managed forests are developed and maintained with long-term demand in mind.  Clear cutting and other aggressive logging activities are not allowed in FSC certified forest tracts.  These practices have been found to be detrimental to the forest ecosystem.

There are 10 principles and 57 criteria that FSC forests must meet.  They include principles of sustainability, social equity, and environmental stewardship.  The chain of custody, which requires that any company that uses FSC wood in its product be certified also, ensures that the end consumer can be sure that they are receiving sustainably harvested lumber.

Green Product Certifications

FSC certified lumberFSC Certification – Wood that is raised and harvested sustainably can receive this certification if the company managing the forest is certified.  Every company that uses FSC lumber in its products must also be FSC certified.  This ensures that the lumber has been handled correctly and is separated from traditional lumber.

Environmental product declaration for softwood lumber (not specific to FSC Certified lumber)

Health Product Declaration

Look for health product declarations for the specific product used.  Depending on the end product, many additional chemicals and additives may be included.



Independent certification Supply doesn’t meet demand
Practices protect the environment More expensive than traditional lumber
Engages local communities and protects the rights of indigenous people Most FSC certified forests are outside the US

Sources: Forest Stewardship Council, National Legal and Policy Center

Photo: Stack of lumber from Shutterstock



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