Frequently Asked Questions
(click on a question to open and close the answer)
What is building green?
There are many terms and phrases that encompass “green building”. High performance building and sustainable design are two of the most common ones. All these terms refer to the process of planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining a structure so that it has less negative impact on the environment while at the same time improving the health and productivity of the occupants. “Green” buildings are also advertised to have lower maintenance issues & costs and improved performance related to energy efficiency in relation to conventionally built structures.
Is green building simply a fad?
Green building is currently not as prevalent as conventional construction; however, there are many government and private “green” buildings in the United States. The U.S Green Building Council (www.usgbc.org) estimates that between five and ten percent of all commercial construction in the U.S. is pursuing accreditation under its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. A wide variety of federal, state, and local government agencies have committed all future projects will be constructed in a “green” manner. This type of building has also attracted nonprofit organizations at both the national and local level.
Does building green cost more?
The cost of green building does not have to be much more than traditional construction as long as efficient, effective plans are set forth in the beginning of the project. To keep costs affordable, it is usually best to focus on simple, yet effective green building strategies, such as energy and water efficiency, that will maximize savings on the operating costs. It must be kept in mind that “green” building materials can be more expensive than traditional building products; however, often green strategies will reduce overall operations and maintenance costs of the structure.
Will green building make the construction process longer?
Is there financial support for green building?
How do buildings affect climate change?
If I make the investment in green products, how will this benefit me and my customers?
What is the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)?
What is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)?
How does the wood products industry effect or benefit me on LEED Projects?
How many points can be earned by using wood proudcts in a LEED for Homes project?
Are wood products the only material that can gain points in a LEED project?
FAQ - If a home is built to code does that mean it is a green home?
What are the 7 categories where credits can be earned in a LEED for Homes project?
What purpose do the credits serve?
How does the National Association of Home Builders compare to the USGBC?
Who can become a FSC member?
What is certification and how do I get certified?
FSC accredited, independent, “third-party” certification bodies or “certifiers” certify forests. They assess forest management using the FSC principles, criteria, and standards; each certifier uses their own evaluation process. This allows FSC to remain outside of the assessment process, and supports the integrity of the standard, and of the FSC system. Certifiers evaluate both forest management activities (forest certification) and tracking of forest products (chain-of-custody certification). There are 12 FSC-accredited certifiers around the globe. If you are interested in obtaining an FSC-certification, please contact an FSC accredited certifier. They will be able to provide you with information regarding how the assessment process works, costs, and a timeline for certification completion. http://www.fscus.org
How are FSC products evaluated/rated?
The logic for labeling FSC 100% products at 100% is obvious, as they do, in fact, contain 100% FSC material.
“FSC Mix Credit” products are also labeled at 100% because the amount of material carrying this label corresponds to the amount of FSC material in the production batch, representing a “pass-through” of FSC-certified material: if 90% of inputs into the production batch are FSC certified, then 90% of the products that come out can be sold as FSC certified.
Products labeled “FSC Mix [NN] %” refers to the percentage of actual FSC certified content, because this is consistent with past LEED practice and the intent of the Certified Wood credit.
For LEED NCv2.2, use only the percent of the value. The NC Reference Guides provide more detail for complex assemblies. Please note that if the label does not contain a percentage, (for example, such as in the case of “FSC 100%” and “FSC Mix Sources” labels) then 100 percent of the product value can be counted.
What environmental issues do the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) attempt to address?
However, in some countries as much as 80% of the timber is harvested illegally, often involving the violation of human rights and destruction of protected forests. A key factor behind the threats faced by natural forests is the perception by many societies that they lack economic value. The extraordinary social and environmental value of forests in comparison to other land uses is often not considered. In other words, forests are often converted to other land uses which lack many of the social and environmental values of forest but promise higher economic returns.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC sets high standards that ensure forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way.
How does FSC certification make a difference in the world's forests?
Who develops the FSC guidelines?
If I have a millwork shop that runs custom moulding for FSC certified companies, do I have to be certified?
Do I need to be FSC certified to install FSC certified products?
No. Not if you fall under the following categories:
- You are a general contractor who buys the product from architectural woodworking companies that employs trim carpenters that install the material (Note: the architectural woodworking company has to be FSC certified.)
- You are an independent contractor that only installs the product and you do not modify the product’s packaging or form except as is required for installation
What if I am a distributor purchasing a product from a primary manufacturer and reselling to a lumberyard. Both the manufacturer and lumberyard have COC certification, and I am not taking physical possession of the product. Do I need COC certification?
What documentation is required to achieve the FSC products LEED credit?
All vendor invoices for permanently installed wood products, both FSC-certified and not, purchased by the project contractor and subcontractors must be complied. Vendors are defined as those companies that sell products to the project contractor or subcontractors.
Each vendor invoice must conform to the following requirements:
- Each wood product must be identified on a line-item basis;
- FSC products must be identified as such on a line-item basis;
- The $ value of each line item must be shown;
- The vendor’s chain-of-custody (COC) certificate number must be shown on any invoice that includes FSC products.
Note that this means that each wood products vendor that invoices FSC-certified products must be COC-certified by an FSC-accredited certifier.
What is SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative)?
SFI is a fully independent, registered non-profit organization, with a governance structure with equal representation across three chambers: social, economic and environmental. SFI is a single standard covering 135 million acres certified to it across North America. FSC has 13 different standards across North America, 9 in the US and 4 in Canada. Only 10% of the world’s forests are third-party certified – the majority of which is in North America. By sourcing certified products, from a variety of credible standards, buyers are sending a message that they support sound forestry and buy responsibly. The SFI Standard acknowledges that there is a significant amount of wood fiber that is not from certified forests and requires SFI companies that source wood directly take measures to ensure all of the wood fiber they use, certified or not, is procured from known and legal sources.
What is PEFC (Programmer for the Endorsement of Forest Certification)?
- The PEFC Council is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization which promotes sustainably managed forests through independent third party certification.
- PEFC certification assures buyers of wood and paper products that they are promoting the sustainable management of forests.
- PEFC provides compatibility and quality assurance between international forest certification schemes.
- PEFC is one of the largest schemes in the world for certifying sustainable forest management.
How does PEFC help forest and people?
- PEFC is a solution to address the global problem of illegal logging
- PEFC protects the rights of indigenous people
- PEFC safeguards communities’, workers’ and local people’s rights
- Social and environmental groups participate in PEFC’s decision making
What are the PEFC's safeguard mechanisms?
- The logo indicates that the products contains at least 70% certified material
- Only timber and paper products from PEFC endorsed systems can be traded and labeled with the PEFC logo
- PEFC assures that the uncertified content in PEFC certified products does not originate from illegal logging (controversial sources)
- PEFC certification is based on several hundred very detailed criteria
- PEFC certified forests and certified companies are inspected annually
What is CARB (California Air Resources Board)?
What is formaldehyde?
When formaldehyde is reacted with urea, a hard resin is produced. These resins are commonly used in bonding agents that are in turn used to produce hardwood plywood, particleboard, and MDF. Urea Formaldehyde can emit gasses from the finished product for some periods of time even after the manufacturing process is complete.
What is a VOC (Volatile Organic Compound)?
What is phenolic glue?
What is PVA (Polyvinyl acetates) glue?
What does the term formaldehyde free mean?
This term is used to describe construction materials that have no formaldehyde of any kind added during the manufacturing process. This specifically refers to the binding agents used in the production of composite panels, veneer cores, LVLs, etc. Basically, no formaldehyde UF, PF or otherwise is added to the wood or the resins during the production of the various products. It must kept in mind that formaldehyde exists naturally and occurs in wood, but “formaldehyde free” means that no additional formaldehyde (other than what occurs naturally) is added to the given product during its production process.