NEW YORK (December 12, 2011) – Maine’s Governor, Paul LePage, signed an Executive Order last week permitting the use of unsustainably-harvested wood in the construction of green buildings. LePage’s action undermines the state’s growing green building and sustainable forestry industries, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Previously, Maine required new or expanded state buildings to meet LEED green building standards, the highly regarded and widely supported standards of the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. LEED standards require wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which is recognized as the only environmentally credible certification program for sustainable forestry by forestry professionals, landowners, building professionals, environmentalists, and governments.
As a result of Maine’s former embrace of the LEED program, the state was home to a growing green building industry with 67 US Green Building Council member companies representing $5 billion in economic activity, and supporting over 450 LEED Accredited Professionals.
LePage’s Executive Order allows the use of non-FSC certified wood, involving programs that are forestry-industry efforts to greenwash destructive logging. These programs include Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard, American Tree Farm System, and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification systems.
Below is a statement from NRDC’s forestry specialist Sami Yassa, Senior Scientist and Director of NRDC's Markets Initiative:
“The Governor’s action constitutes government-sponsored greenwashing.
“Eliminating LEED effectively turns Maine’s once-great green building program into business-as-usual. The Governor has chosen to benefit a small segment of the state’s logging industry, often financed by out-of-state interests, who refuse to improve their practices.
“There are currently over 60 organizations in Maine that are members of the U.S. Green Building Council. These organizations represent the diverse segments of the economy that are part of Maine’s green building industry, employing more than 60,000 people and grossing more than $5 billion in annual revenue.
“By moving the state’s emerging green-building economy backwards, LePage is attacking one of the bright spots in the economy right now. His support of unsustainable forestry defies the interests of his citizens and common sense.”