People often ask us about the differences between wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and wood certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).
The line between the two, for many consumers, is fuzzy, and LEED 2012 appears to be on the verge of accepting SFI wood, whereas in the past only FSC was acceptable.
But there are stark differences, and a side-by-side comparison of the two standards can help us remember why we prefer FSC, and why our ultimate goal is to promote the use of wood that meets or exceeds FSC standards.
Some of the biggest differences:
- FSC prohibits the use of genetically-modified organisms; SFI allows their use
- FSC prohibits the use of persistent and/or bioaccumulative pesticides; SFI recommends "prudent" use of pesticides
- FSC prohibits the conversion of natural forest to plantations; SFI allows that conversion and the certification of wood from those forests
- FSC's standards were developed by a broad range of stakeholders, including environmental and human rights activists and forest products representatives; SFI was developed exclusively by the forest products industries
- FSC's audit results are made public and can be appealed; SFI's audit results are private and cannot be appealed
UPDATE 8/16/2013: This well-researched Portland Tribune article explores the differences in detail. A great read for anyone looking for more information about FSC vs. SFI.
Here are some interesting tidbits to help clarify things:
Seven More Brands Distance Themselves from 'Sustainable Forestry Initiative' (Forestethics.com)
A Picture Is Worth: FSC vs SFI Forests (Treehugger.com)
A Comparison of the American Forest & Paper Association’s Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council’s Certification System (Yale University; PDF)
Built by homeowner Brent Foster, this adorable ADU in Southeast Portland is made entirely from FSC-certified or salvaged lumber. Foster, a woodworking hobbyist, designed and built the structure to incorporate many sustainable features, including an innovative graywater system, 12" thick walls, and an ecoroof.
The ecoroof is held in place on its slope by a grid of juniper boards, strategically placed beneath the soil, which are rot-resistant for years and ideal for a ground-contact application like this.
Foster also used locally-sourced, FSC certified lumber for the framing package, and sided the home in FSC certified cedar shakes.
Inside, an adorable table made from local FSC cedar grounds the space and adds rustic charm. A stained concrete floor, slate mosaic tile backsplash, and cabinetry made from salvaged Doug fir add earthy color and texture.
Outside, a hand-made cedar gate and arbor beckon guests into the yard. A verdant DIY living wall, nearing completion, will be installed nearby.
Foster's new space is a shining example of innovative sustainable building techniques. Nice work, Brent!
This handmade boat boasts oars, gunwales, and breasthooks made out of local, sustainably sourced wood. Isn't she a beauty?
Her name is Rosie, and she is the product of months of love and labor by a team of Portland women who, under the tutelage of the Wind and Oar boat school, took up woodworking tools for the first time in their lives and crafted this amazing functional piece of art. The gunwales and oars are made of clear vertical grain Doug fir sourced from forests just outside of Portland; the beautifully figured maple in the breasthooks is from the central Willamette Valley; and the floor boards are made of local Alder.
Read more about Wind and Oar in this Oregonian feature.
From The Oregonian, August 29, 2011
Blog post by Chris Wille, aka EcoBeavers
Here's a link to the original post.
The long debate over how to manage our forests has often been divisive, but amid the discord there are some dazzling displays of collaboration. It's indeed possible for timber cutters, conservationists and businesspeople to all paddle in the same direction. A local, nonprofit organization called Sustainable Northwest brings these diverse forces together in a program called Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities Partnership.
Sustainable Northwest is led by the charismatic and clear-thinking Martin Goebel, who published a proposal in the Oregonian last week aiming to recast the entire argument over how to save salmon. The iconic fish, properly managed and productive forests and thriving rural communities are all linked, Goebel wrote, and profit incentives will work better than regulations in unlocking creative solutions and a lasting determination to work together.
Much of the wood in our Beavercreek eco-home/office - still under construction - comes from Healthy Forests managed by Healthy Communities through Sustainable Northwest Wood, Inc. in Portland. SNW is perhaps the only lumber yard in the country that deals exclusively in wood from forests certified as responsibly managed. Buying wood through SNW is like ordering seafood from so many responsible Portland restaurants – you know it's sustainably harvested or it wouldn't be on the menu.
With the guidance of SNW manager Ryan Temple, we chose bigleaf maple for two floors. This spectacular, warmly pale hardwood grows in combination with Douglas fir and is still quite common. Our floors came from local, sustainably managed forests.
Our window trim is Doug fir from Hyla Woods, located about an hour west of Portland. This family-owned business manages three forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The goal and mantra of Hyla Woods is "to grow ecologically complex, economically viable, responsibly operated forests." The model forests host students and researchers. Every year, the foresters select a few trees for felling. The logs are milled in the forest and dried in a solar kiln.
Jim & Chip Aug2011.jpgView full sizeCM WilleMaster carpenter Jim Cochell at work, with enthusiastic encouragement from Chip the Dog.
We instantly had a soft spot for the operation as Hyla is the Latin name for a large and diverse genus of frogs – the gaudy green and red tree frog – also the logo of our organization, the Rainforest Alliance.
We're fortunate to be able to surround ourselves with fabulous woods harvested and milled by caring and skilled woodsmen and women. The sustainable wood market creates sustainable jobs and, yes, healthy communities. As these partnerships grow and branch out, they are attracting high-level attention. Recently, President Obama's top environmental policy adviser visited a Healthy Forest collaboration in John Day, a timber-dependent town in south central Oregon sandwiched between two national forests.
Window frame.JPGView full sizeCM WilleForest Stewardship Council certified window trim and flooring.
According to Sustainable Northwest, which coordinated the visit, Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said, "As we look at models for conservation, the top-down models of the past don't necessarily meet the needs of today." Sustainable Northwest and collaborating logging communities get praise from the White House; we get beautiful wood in our house.
Bo over at MADE Studio sent us some breathtaking photos of projects he recently completed that use our Oregon White Oak, sourced locally from the Willamette Valley. We love this ultra-contemporary European style kitchen island and the reception desk at Boora Architects' recently renovated offices.
Check out these photos:
And, of course, check out all of MADE's beautiful work at www.made-studio.com.
Thank you, Kelley Beamer and the folks at Cascadia Region Green Building Council, for sharing this important information!
Build healthy forests by building right
From Sustainable Business Oregon
July 28, 2011
By Kelley Beamer, Cascadia Region Green Building Council
Each time a new building is designed, constructed or renovated, builders have an opportunity to support healthy and resilient forests by choosing sustainably harvested wood products.
Thanks largely to growth in the green building sector and the uptake of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — LEED — building certification, several forestry standards have entered the market.
The most rigorous standard was developed by the nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council. The organization, known as the FSC, promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC certification is a voluntary, market-based tool that ensures the highest biological and ethical standards were followed from forest to mill. FSC contains more performance-based criteria than any other standard in North America and follows strict requirements for assessing and conserving old growth and biodiversity.
The standard is also dedicated to protecting the rights of indigenous peoples on public and private lands and is the only certification system that outright prohibits genetically modified organisms. When lined up to other forestry standards, the FSC certification holds the highest bar.
In Oregon, we have several FSC-certified forests that represent both family-owned forests and large-scale land, like the FSC forest managed by the Warm Springs Tribe. As of March 2011, there were 548,379 acres of certified forests in Oregon. These forests provide an alternative to industrial timber harvesting, which have caused soil erosion and landslides that damage habitat and drinking water.
To date, the key problem has been linking these local forest products to the local builders who can source them. The good news is that the opportunity is growing.
Sustainable Northwest Wood is filling the critical role of connecting customers to wood sourced from sustainably managed forests and family owned mills in the Pacific Northwest. Just as farmers’ markets connect people to the farmers that grow their food, Sustainable NW Wood connects builders to foresters.
The organization operates a warehouse in Southeast Portland that provides builders with immediate delivery of specific wood orders. Each wood order carries with it a story about its place of origin. The premium of FSC wood varies, but in many cases Sustainable Northwest Wood is finding that they can supply at costs comparable to non-certified wood.
The building community has a major role to play with ensuring the future of our forests by building with certified sustainable forest products that address the triple bottom line of people, planet and prosperity. FSC products provide a value added product that can put Oregon in a leadership position for sourcing local wood and protect the long-term health of our local communities.
The guys over at The Official Manufacturing Co. know a thing or two about great design. We love how they've incorporated our locally-sourced, FSC-certified Doug fir into their new office space in Southeast Portland. They took basic dimensional lumber most often used for framing buildings and turned it into super-functional and unique work surfaces.
Doug fir says "Portland" more than any other species of wood and offers a warm and welcoming amber color with an interesting linear grain pattern. OMFG Co. artfully combined these elements with a sleek black concrete floor and lots of well-curated vintage accessories to create a space that perfectly reflects their distinctive aesthetic. We can't wait to see what they do next!
More of their great design and branding: www.omfgco.com
Earlier this year, Ryan pioneered a new product made of our locally-sourced Oregon White Oak: Architectural-grade panels that are easy to work with and ideally suited for furniture and cabinetry. To accomplish this, we partnered with Idaho Veneer, which slices our logs 1/40th of an inch thick -- a nearly paper-thin sheet of wood that exposes its exquisite grain pattern.
The wood is then pressed onto either FSC-certified, no added urea formaldehyde MDF cores for the 1/4" thick finished panels and plywood for the 3/4" finished panels. The veneer process allows the grain pattern to be book-matched, which results in a near perfect symmetry on the finished product.
Cellar Ridge Custom Homes, based in McMinnville, recently used our Oregon White Oak panels in an Earth Advantage Platinum home in Northeast Portland. Here, the Oregon White Oak adds an organic note, breaking up the clean angles of the very modern space. We love the natural look of the oak on the ultra-mod cabinetry. Check out the photos of the Oregon White Oak in the kitchen, and be sure to stop by this house during the Build It Green! tour this September.
Photos credit Sally Painter.
As the previous post explains, juniper is a fantastic choice for projects because of its environmental credentials. It's also great for exterior applications due to its superior rot and weather resistance, more so than any other regional species, plus it just happens to be beautiful!
Many of our customers are working with juniper for their raised beds, quickly and easily transforming back yards, patios, and tight urban spaces into functional gardens to grow vegetables and herbs. Of course, the juniper is totally natural and not treated with any chemicals that could leach into the soil--or into the food growing there.
We keep 6" x 6" x 8' and 10' timbers and 2" x 6" x 8' and 10' boards in stock, ready for you to pick up and begin your garden project this weekend. Please call ahead so we can get your order ready for you!