It's Not Easy Being Green
by Greg Jolly
Although the focus of the North American Construction Forecast Conference (see story
"Buckle Up"), was on the future state of the economy and its impact on the building industry, speakers also talked about the importance of incorporating green building and sustainable concepts into building design. The Window & Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) sees this as a top priority as well and is helping the industry get a handle on various forest management standards and certification systems.
Thinking Outside the Box
WDMA has joined with manufacturers, other associations and a host of interested parties in creating a Wood Building Product Alliance to better understand green certification programs for wood products.
“We’re committed to the concept of sustainable forestry and urge our members to investigate and recognize the policy of promoting forest management standards and certification systems,” said Alan J. Campbell, CAE and WDMA staff president. WDMA’s Green Products Task Force has issued a “Statement of Beliefs” that is a combined effort of many. It does not endorse a single certification, but recognizes those programs that work toward promoting forestry management techniques and long-term sustainability.”
“As industry leaders, we want to build support behind one common position rather than numerous similar, but slightly different ones. This gives us strength as an industry as well in dealing with environmental groups and public opinion,” Campbell said.
The Green Products Task Force and the Wood Building Products Alliance were instated by WDMA to develop common beliefs on the issue of the implementation of certification standards.
The Truth About Forests
Educating the public on the truth about forests is key to industry-wide efforts. The plain truth is that we’re not running out of trees. In fact, there’s more timber in North America than ever before. The window and door industry knows that keeping forests healthy means resource management and the highest level of care for wildlife. Sustainability at its best is growing timber for products in a manner compatible with maintaining other resources as well.
Dr. Patrick Moore has been a leader in the international environmental field for 25 years and is a founding member of Greenpeace. Moore has dedicated his current organization, Greenspirit, to spreading the word about the use of wood and sustainable forestry. Moore says most of the resources used today are non-renewable, such as steel, cement, plastic and fossil fuels.
“When compared with these industries, it is clear that forestry is the most sustainable of all the primary industries that provide civilization with materials and energy. Forests are innately renewable and they grow with solar energy, air, water and minerals from rocks as their only requirements,” Moore said. “Simply stated, trees are the answer.”
Launching a major communications campaign this fall, the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), based in Washington, D.C., wants to get the word out to consumers that forests are renewable, and that it’s OK to use their resources properly, said Michael Virga, director of Sustainable Forestry Programs. Recently, AF&PA and its Sustainable Forestry Initiative™ program began making the move to third-party audits to ensure compliance with their standards and lend further credibility to its efforts.
There’s no single certification program touted as the perfect plan. The bottom line is that the program should fit the business of the company and its market and it should promote sustainable forestry.
“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to the issue of certification,” said Frank Mendizabal, director of media relations for Weyerhaeuser Corp., based in Federal Way, Wash. “Which program may work depends on the company, the nature of its operations, the location of its forests, the region, habitat and so much more.”
Greg Jolly is vice president of marketing and sales for Weyerhaeuser Co. in Federal Way, Wash., and chairperson of the WDMA Green Products Task Force.
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