In 1987, at the World Commission on Environment and Development, sustainability was defined as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. Sustainable forests preserve these needs through management of certified lumber. By choosing to build with certified lumber, architects and builders can construct homes without an impact on the future.
The main lumber certification programs include the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and SA Forestry. Hawaii also advocates sustainable forestry practices with the addition of a few other more specified criteria made for Hawaii’s unique environment. The State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Forestry and Wildlife Division Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management include: area of forest land and net area of forest land for timber production, total growing stock of both merchantable and non-merchantable tree species on forest land available for timber production, area and growing stock of plantations of native and exotic species, and annual removal of wood products compared to the volume determined to be sustainable.
To create more use of certified lumber among builders and architects, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the Leaders in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) have created an incentive program to promote green building. This program awards points for choosing to build with certified lumber. A platinum, silver, or gold certification level is awarded to a house upon completion based on the number of points earned. That home can then be marketed as green certified, which helps in selling the home and creating a green reputation for the architect or builder.
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
The SFI program was launched in 1994 as one of the U.S. forest sector’s contributions to the vision of sustainable development established by the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Its original principles and implementation guidelines began in 1995, and it evolved as the first SFI national standard backed by third-party audits in 1998. Today, SFI Inc. is an independent, non-profit organization responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving a sustainable forestry certification program that is internationally recognized and is the largest single forest standard in the world.
Forest Stewardship Council
FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is a pioneer forum where the global consensus on responsible forest management convenes and through democratic process effects solutions to the pressures facing the world’s forests and forest-dependent communities. FSC certification provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value.
Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification
The Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) through independent third-party certification. PEFC works throughout the entire forest supply chain to promote good practice in the forest and to ensure that timber and non-timber forest products are produced with respect for the highest ecological, social and ethical standards. Thanks to its eco-label, customers and consumers are able to identify products from sustainably managed forests.