Officials seek allowance of more southern timber land in green building projects

Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 03:19 PM.

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and agriculture department leaders from other southern states signed a resolution last week requesting the U.S. Green Building Council to recognize sustainable timber programs in order to allow more southern timber to be used in environmentally friendly building projects across the country.

“Forests in Florida and other southern states support jobs and generate billions for our economy,” Commissioner Putnam said. “By opening up the process to allow more timber sales for green building projects, we will help our economy at home and put our growers on a level playing field with others across the nation and globe.”

The Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA) met in New Orleans last week for its annual conference to address critical issues facing the agriculture industry.

The resolution asked the U.S. Green Building Council to allow trees certified from the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) to be recognized as certified wood. Currently, the council only allows trees certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to meet this criteria. All three programs promote conservation, sustainability and land stewardship.

Businesses that use ATFS or SFI certification are barred from participating in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system used nationally to recognize green projects. Barring this wood from sale increases the amount of foreign wood used in American construction, raising the prices of wood and jeopardizing local job growth.

The resolution was signed by state representatives of departments of agriculture in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

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