Georgia Governor Nathan Deal won some unexpected praise Wednesday for his recent executive order to broaden the eligibility guidelines of timber sourcing for government buildings.
The move, which effectively banned state agencies and departments from adopting a controversial green building program, was endorsed in an opinion editorial today by Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell.
“The only way to continue to see the valuable impact that Georgia forests provide to our communities is to ensure healthy markets for forest products,” Leavell, who first moved to central Georgia in 1969 after a ten-year stint with the Allman Brothers Band, wrote. “That is why I commend Gov. Nathan Deal for promoting the use of products from Georgia’s responsibly managed forests in state construction — and calling for equal recognition of all credible forest certification standards.”
Deal’s executive order, issued in August to great fanfare among policy wonks in both the state and national capitols, stipulated that all new or expanded state buildings must “recogniz[e] all forest certifications equally.” (Read the order here.)
It barred Georgia government enrollment in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program that enforces green building practices.
LEED recognizes a singular certification system, the Forest Stewardship Council, that represents less than one quarter of all certified forests across the nation. In Georgia, that margin is little more than one percent.
Timber certified by alternate systems, like Sustainable Forestry Initiative or the American Tree Farm System, is therefore necessarily excluded from the resource pool for LEED’s adherents.
That unscientific preference, Leavell said, marginalizes responsible forest owners whose land has been greenlighted by competing programs.
“In a time when we are fighting to preserve and create employment in the United States, this order protects and develops jobs in Georgia’s forest industry,” Leavell wrote. “It’s time that SFI- and ATFS-certified lands get the recognition they deserve, as in this executive order.”
The group that administers LEED delayed the consideration of a new, even harsher version of the program earlier this year after congressional lawmakers expressed opposition–14 federal agencies or departments, in addition to 34 state governments, mandate adherence–to amendments that would prohibit or limit the application of common plastics, like PVC or bullet-proof polycarbonate glass.
- Dome Confidential