Certified Wood

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a nonprofit group that works to ensure sustainable forest management. FSC certifies wood that is harvested sustainably.
Photo credit: RustyClark via Flickr

According to FSC’s website, its requirements for harvesting wood are the following:

• prohibits conversion of natural forests or other habitat around the world
• prohibits the use of highly hazardous pesticides around the world
• prohibits the cultivation of genetically modified trees (GMOs)
• respects the right of indigenous peoples around the world
• controls each certified operation at least once a year – and if they are found not to comply, the certificate is withdrawn

So far, 34.9 million acres of forest have been certified in the U.S., and 172.7 million acres have been certified in the US and Canada.

While only forests can become certified, companies can sell products made with FSC-certified materials and label them with the FSC trademarks, but only if they become Chain-of-Custody certified. According to FSC, “any operation making, changing, trading, re-labelling or repacking FSC certified products” can become chain of custody (CoC) certified. The independent certification organizations verify that these companies can track their supply back to FSC certified sources.

Currently, 3,522 companies have been Chain-of-Custody certified in the U.S., and 4,506 have been CoC certified in the US and Canada.


Certified Wood and LEED

Free LEED Exam Preperation

LEED awards points to projects that use FSC-certified wood. In LEED for New Construction 2009, for example, Materials and Resources Credit 7 awards 1 point for using a minimum of 50% FSC-certified wood based on cost.

How to Label Your Product with FSC

As previously mentioned, your company will need Chain-of-Custody (CoC) certification to label your products as FSC certified. The certification applies to manufacturers, processors and traders of materials from FSC-certified forests.

To become CoC certified, your first step it to contact an FSC-accredited Certification Body. These bodies are listed here.

However, it is important to note that, according to FSC, “not all retailers have to be FSC certified. Retailers that sell finished and labeled products to the general public do not have to be FSC certified; instead they can apply to have FSC logo access to promote the availability of FSC-certified products”. To learn more about using the logo in this circumstance, visit FSC’s website.

FSC Certified Products

The following three wood products are FSC-certified:

1. TimberSIL

TimberSIL, a product that combines wood with an amorphous glass barrier made of sodium silicate, is a unique solution for siding, framing, flooring, decking, windows, roofing, shingles, and other applications.

The sodium silicate makes the wood resistant to microbes and insects, which eliminates the the need for ACQ, copper azole or CCA treatments, which are harmful to the environment. The EPA considers sodium silicate a nontoxic barrier, which is much preferred to the other treatments, especially since EPA phased out CCA in 2003 because it leaches arsenic. The chemical, which is commonly found in laundry detergent, releases no VOCs and minimal pollutants.

TimberSIL has excellent durability, with a warranty of 40 years, and has has won multiple awards, including BuildingGreen’s 2004 Top 10 GreenSpec Product, Popular Science’s Grand Award and the Metropolitan Home Design Award.

TimberSIL has won multiple awards, including BuildingGreen’s 2004 Top 10 GreenSpec Product, Popular Science’s Grand Award and the Metropolitan Home Design Award.

2. EcoTimber

EcoTimber, a Denver-based company, offers a myriad of sustainable wood flooring products, including some that is FSC-certified. The company also used reclaimed wood and bamboo for some of their flooring products, and many of their floors do not contain formaldehyde.

The company’s poplar flooring in particular is made from 100% recycled FSC-certified furniture, is formaldehyde-free, and was named a top 10 green building product by Sustainable Industries in 2010.
The company’s lines of green flooring include:

• Ecovintage: This includes strand poplar flooring (mentioned above), which is made from 100% recycled FSC-certified furniture. It also includes hand-scraped flooring, which is made with 100% FSC-certified content and a formaldehyde-free adhesive.

• EcoPlanet and EcoReserve: These products, which are FSC-certified, are 100% grown and manufactured in the U.S.A.

• EcoBamboo: Made from rapidly renewable bamboo with a 5-6 year harvest cycle.

3. Ambient

Ambient, named one of Inc. 5000’s fastest growing companies, offers rapidly renewable bamboo flooring. It is made using A-grade Moso bamboo, which can be harvested in 5-7 years (which is less than the maximum of 10 years required to be considered “rapidly renewable”). Their flooring products range from 0.01 to 0.03 ppm of formaldehyde, which is very low and good for indoor air quality. The products can also be specially ordered as zero formaldehyde.

Four types of Ambient’s flooring can be specifically ordered as FSC-certified, and may contribute to LEED: classic, strand-woven, click-lock HDF, and hand scraped strand.


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