LEED has recently introduced a pilot credit to that aims to help eliminate illegally sourced wood from the supply chain. LEED has always rewarded leadership in sourcing materials and this new pilot credit does not replace LEED’s existing certified wood credit. The vast majority of new LEED buildings have not pursued this credit, however. This new pilot credit offers an alternate path to compliance (ACP) that is applicable to both LEED 2009 and LEE v4 systems, that offers a tiered approach to sourcing legal wood and expands the definition of what can be considered legally sourced wood.

Before the approval of this new ACP, the only form of the certification that LEED accepted for wood was Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), but the language in the new pilot credit requires the use of wood from “legal (non-controversial) zources as defined by ASTM D7612-10.”The ASTM designation of “certified wood”includes the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the Sustainable Forestry Institute (SFI), and the Canadian Standards Association Sustainable Forest Management Standard (CSA) in addition to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard.

Although wood may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of illegally trafficked goods, many new buildings, most likely including LEED certified buildings, contain illegally harvested wood. LEED does not currently require that builders vet non-certified wood sources. According to Interpol, illegal logging accounts for an estimated 50% – 90% of all forestry activities in tropical forests, such as the Amazon basin, and accounts for up to 30% of all wood traded globally. Illegal logging also continues to be a problem in protected forests, including those in the United States. Healthy forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and deforestation accounts for more carbon emissions than all the shipping, air, rail, and road traffic combined.

The global supply chain for timber is very complex, and it is often extremely difficult to guarantee that wood has been legally sourced. Laws in the US, Europe, and Australia do require, however, that companies must practice due diligence when purchasing wood in order to reduce the risk of buying black market wood.

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