It's not often that people take issue with green buildings, where occupants are healthier, less energy is used and the environment is less negatively impacted. But this week as the AIA has lobbied the state legislature to pass a bill requiring all state buildings to achieve a 'Gold' LEED rating from the US Green Building Council, the timber industry has taken issue because it could mean less wood used in Oregon buildings.
"It's like a slap in the face," Bill Kluting of the Carpenters Industrial Council told The Oregonian's Dylan Rivera in an article from this morning's Business section. I'd suggest that it's a self-slap.
LEED buildings get credit for using wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, the requirements of which are more stringent than mainstream timber industry practices. You know, less clear-cutting and more habitat/forest preservation.
Rather than looking in the mirror and seeing both the changing public values and financial opportunity from better protecting the forests it harvests, the timber industry instead favors the state scrap LEED requirements in favor of another green building rating system, Green Globes, which recognizes several forestry standards, including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which more or less simply defers to state laws.
It's easy for me to criticize the timber industry for not being progressive enough. I don't live in a small town with heavy dependence on logging to support my family. But ever since the spotted owl incident of the early 90s, when the timber industry fought to cut down old grown temperate rainforests (some of the world's last remaining), including the habitat of this endangered species, I've been skeptical of any timber company looking out for the environment or anything other than business and jobs. Their fight against LEED and Senate Bill 576 confirms that suspicion in my mind. Oh, and I also wretch at clear-cutting that scars the landscape, seen every time I drive to the coast.