Posts Tagged ‘Nathan Deal’
August 30th, 2012 at 5:08 pm
Georgia, Maine Lead the Way on Building Sustainability, Market Fairness and Economic Commonsense

Tree farmers and small business owners have much to celebrate from a recent executive order signed by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, which broadens the eligibility criteria for timber used in state government building projects and maintenance. 
The order allows a larger number of wood products from Georgia forests to be utilized in state construction and building projects, protecting jobs in the state’s timber industry and reducing costs for taxpayers by opening the market to products certified by the American Tree Farm System and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), certification programs currently not recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards.
By ending USGBC’s LEED monopoly on “green” building wood certification, which effectively governs materials used in the overwhelming majority of public building projects nationwide, Georgia has rightly chosen competition and an open marketplace for forest products over monopolistic control by a non-profit environmental group that increasingly seems driven more by ideology and influence rather than sound science and economic common sense.
Recognizing that the “LEED rating system unfairly awards its wood certification credits only to products certified to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)” – the preferred certification program of extreme environmental groups that notoriously ignore the economic and employment impacts of their agendas – Governor Deal’s executive order officially acknowledges that “all forest certifications will equally help promote sustainable forests” and requires that “the design, construction, operation 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.” [emphasis added]

The order comes at a time when LEED standards are becoming more closely scrutinized by elected officials and land managers.  Governor Paul LePage of Maine issued a similar executive order at the end of last year, and a growing, bipartisan group of elected officials are insisting the USGBC stop showing preference to FSC.   Environmental activist groups favor FSC over other systems, although it is questionable whether an FSC-only approach produces net environmental benefits or costs.  Economic logic and real-world practice suggests that a discriminatory FSC-only policy does hurt in terms of increased prices for consumers and forestry jobs. 

Favoring one standard over others upsets the delicate balance that must take place between sustainability and economic viability.  Georgia and Maine understand as much and have acted accordingly.   More states and the federal government should quickly follow their lead. 

Given the fragile state of the American economy, taking steps to break the LEED/FSC-monopoly will provide relief for taxpayers and landowners nationwide, who will be able to sell their goods in a larger number of markets.