re LEED Hurts Maryland Citizens

Dear MFA members and Friends

Please see statement below from Al Goetzl regarding the op-ed on LEED that came out of the MFA office. What was submitted by MFA, based on information provided by Mr. Goetzl, unfortunately contained some outdated numbers that were quickly brought to my attention by CTN readers and MFA members. The statement below explains the error and gives the corrected figures. The FSC acres existing in Allegany and Garrett Counties are managed by Red Rock Enterprises of Friendsville, MD in Garrett Co (a MFA member).

MFA regrets the mistake that occurs, but as Mr. Goetzl states below: "However, the fact of the matter remains that the area certified by SFI and ATFS in the state is over four times the area certified by FSC, reinforcing the point that Maryland forest landowners are disadvantaged by a LEED-only policy."

Karin Miller, MFA Executive Director

Karin Miller is right to be critical of the LEED® rating system for green buildings. When it comes to wood products, a major flaw in LEED is that credits are not given to materials that sequester carbon (rather than emit carbon) or use significantly much less fossil fuels in their manufacture. LEED also recognizes only the one forest certification system – Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – even though the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) and American Tree Farm System® are more prevalent in Maryland. The data cited by Karin in her piece came from a compilation of certified forests that I provided and which should be updated. The FSC website lists just two forest management certificates in Maryland as of September, 2008, totaling just shy of 50,000 acres. One of the two certified forests is, in fact, in western Maryland. However, the fact of the matter remains that the area certified by SFI and ATFS in the state is over four times the area certified by FSC, reinforcing the point that Maryland forest landowners are disadvantaged by a LEED-only policy.

Alberto Goetzl
Seneca Creek Associates, LLC
17203 Lightfoot Lane
Poolesville, Maryland 20837
Voice: 202-463-2713
Fax: 202-463-4703

LEED hurts Maryland citizens

To the Editor:

Cumberland Times-News

October 29, 2008 11:09 pm

Much attention has been paid to Allegany County’s first “green” building, a state Human Resources and Development Commission (HRDC) building to be located in Cumberland.
Unfortunately, pending state government rules could discourage the building from using any wood from Maryland tree farms.

The reason is that Maryland follows the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system for green building, a system that does not recognize the environmental value of wood harvested from most of the working forests in Maryland.

The result is that Maryland’s forest products industry and its 10,000 employees will likely see little or no benefit from this taxpayer-funded project, and, if some officials in Annapolis have their way, Maryland’s working forests and forest products industry could find it difficult to benefit from state construction projects.

The reason is the on-going national debate about green building policy. To help architects and builders make good decisions about energy efficiency and environmentally responsible materials, several green building rating systems have been developed.

Materials that provide good insulation give a building a higher score, as well as high-tech heating and cooling systems or more airtight, heat-resistant windows.

Wood building materials that come from sustainably-managed forests also provide higher ratings. The problem is that LEED, the green building system currently used by Maryland state government, only provides credit for wood products from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a system that is common overseas but not widely used in Maryland, and not as widely used in the United States as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or American Tree Farm System (ATFS).

Maryland has 58,049 acres of SFI forests and 157,174 acres of ATFS forests, nearly a quarter of which are located in Allegany and Garrett counties. Allegany County also has over 170 ATFS-certified forests, more than any other county in the state.

In contrast, there is little FSC forest land in Maryland — less than 35,000 acres and none of it in Western Maryland. **(a call received by the MFA office after this editorial ran stated that there are approximately 8,000 acres in Allegany and another 8,000 in Garrett County that are FSC certified. We regret the oversite, however, this is still a small amount in comparison to what is certified under the other systems) Despite FSC’s claims of superiority, research has shown that all three systems provide essentially the same environmental benefits.

Because the state’s LEED system does not allow the use of wood from the SFI or ATFS forests owned by Maryland’s tree farmers, it is more likely that the wood in state buildings could wind up coming from other states, or even overseas, than from Maryland itself.

In early November, a state advisory board will issue recommendations on whether or not state government should use only the LEED system and its virtual ban on most Maryland wood products, or if other green building rating systems — such as Green Globes which recognizes wood from Maryland’s SFI and ATFS forests — should be used as well. Many industry and policy experts expect the recommendations to go against the Maryland forest landowners and forest products industry and in favor of LEED.

If so, this would be both an environmental and economic mistake. If the market for Maryland wood products dries up, many tree farmers will have no choice but to sell their land for residential or commercial development.

Unlike tree farms, once a forest is cleared for subdivisions or strip malls it no longer helps combat global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide nor does it provide habitat for wildlife.
Additionally, with the economy causing new housing starts to decline by more than two-thirds, state construction projects will be an important source of business opportunity for the Maryland forest products industry. Therefore, eliminating bureaucratic barriers like the state’s exclusive use of LEED can mean the difference between having a job and the unemployment line for some.
Maryland should not adopt a LEED-only green building policy. Instead, it should recognize all established green building programs, including Green Globes, which recognizes wood from Maryland’s SFI and ATFS forests, so that architects and designers can pick the system best suited for each project.

Also, the state should not grant a monopoly to LEED when it actually hurts Maryland citizens — the state’s tree farmers and 10,000 forest product industry workers.

By adopting green building policies that help keep Maryland’s forests intact and forest product workers on the job, state government is not only looking out for Maryland interests, it is nurturing support for the very environmental awareness which is at the heart of the green building movement.

Karin E. Miller, Executive Director
Maryland Forests Association Inc.

National Forest Products Week, week of October 19th

October 16th President Bush proclaimed the week of October 19th National Forest Products Week. During his statement, he declared his commitment to the protection of forests from harm. He also pledged to insure the responsible use of the nation's resources for future generations.

National Forest Products Week, 2008
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

During National Forest Products Week, we highlight our country's commitment to protect and wisely use America's forests for our Nation's prosperity and well-being.

Across our country, citizens rely on forest products to meet their daily needs. Our forests enable us to produce goods such as paper and furniture, provide raw materials such as lumber for homes and buildings, and offer job opportunities that bring economic security for many Americans.

My Administration is steadfast in its commitment to protect our forests from both manmade and natural harm. It is vital that we continue to make progress in conserving our natural resources and using them responsibly. Since 2002, we have worked to restore our forests and protected them against catastrophic fires as part of the Healthy Forests Initiative. Americans take great pride in our country's natural splendor, and by working together to be good stewards of the environment, we can leave our children and grandchildren a healthy and flourishing land.

Recognizing the importance of our forests in ensuring our Nation's well-being, the Congress, by Public Law 86-753 (36 U.S.C. 123), as amended, has designated the week beginning on the third Sunday in October of each year as "National Forest Products Week" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this week.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 19 through October 25, 2008, as National Forest Products Week. I call upon all Americans to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


MFA 2008 Conference Registration deadline extended to Oct. 24

The Renewable Energy and the Role of Forests and Forestry conference will be held at the Loews Annapolis Hotel, beginning the evening of October 31st with a social and banquet with featured keynote speaker award-winning forest activist, Bruce Vincent of Libby, Montana.

Saturday's sessions begin with updates on State and National forestry issues will be given by MD State Forester Steven W. Koehn and Michael T. Goergen, Jr. Executive VP and CEO of the Society of American Foresters (SAF). Additional sessions on November 1st include The Role of Forests in Biomass Energy Production and Renewable Energy Projects for Landowners.

The conference is open to all and includes time to visit exhibits, for Q&A with the speakers, and networking with other attendees. The meeting has earned CFEs for Licensed Professional Forester and Master Loggers. Pre-registration is required.
Registration deadline has been extended until October 24th

Full agenda, registration brochure, plus speaker and hotel details are on the MFA website at . For more information about the conference contact: MFA Executive Director Karin Miller, or call the MFA office at 301-895-5369.

Grow the Vote

Maryland Forests Association has teamed up with the American Forest & Paper Association to provide our members information on issues before the U.S. Congress that affect this industry. Every day decisions are made that impact jobs and economic growth in forest products communities across the nation, and this site makes it easy to get involved and stay connected. Grow the Vote also allows you to Take Action on these hot issues and send letters to your Members of Congress with only a few clicks of your mouse! Check out their 2008 Election Information section.