LEED for Homes Myth #1: FSC lumber

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Sometimes, a LEED for Homes project team comes to the table with the expectation that they are required to use FSC-certified lumber in their LEED for Homes projects. Perhaps this comes from confusion with other LEED rating systems used for commercial construction, which does have a prerequisite for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) lumber.

However, in residential construction under LEED-H, this is not the case. There are certainly points available to reward and the use of FSC lumber as an under the Materials and Resources credit MR 2.2 Environmentally Preferred Products (EPP) , but using FSC lumber is not explicitly required.

Note: The only caveat is that any tropical wood used in a LEED for Homes residence must be FSC-certified. So, if you’re planning on Brazilian cherry flooring in a LEED home, then it must be sustainably harvested. However the 2×4 lumber used in the interior wall framing does not have to meet this requirement. This prerequisite is explained in MR 2.1 FSC Certified Tropical Wood.

LEED recognizes that the residential building market doesn’t have the capacity to support FSC lumber as a requirement, so it rewards its use, rather than requiring it. Unless of course the lumber may come from a tropical source. One common, real-world example of this is with luan underlayments. If a project team simply specfies when ordering products such as luan by name, simply state on the purchase order that the Certificate of Custody must be furnished. Since all lumber is required to show the country of origin anyway, this isn’t a difficult requirement.

Actually, project teams choosing to use sustainable lumber on a LEED for Homes project in Chicago have a variety of options open to them. Under LEED for Homes, lumber using any combination of reclaimed, sustainably harvested, or locally produced can earn credit as an environmentally preferred product.

Here are some local resources worth investigating:

  • Hines Lumber carries all kinds of FSC lumber.
  • Green Depot also carries FSC lumber on special order.
  • FSC-certified lumber is even starting to appear in local “big box” retailers.

For studs and interior wall framing, also consider getting reclaimed and locally harvested 2x4s and other lumber from:

For wood trim, also consider getting reclaimed wood from the sources above, and reclaimed wood that has been re-milled from:

  • Horigan Urban Forest Products mills and kiln dries reclaimed hard wood for interior trim, floors, and exposed beams.

And for other resused building materials, there are ten (10)Habitat ReStores in the state of Illinois:

  • Habitat for Humanity ReStores in IL

We hope this has helped demystify LEED for Homes for you. Any questions? Call the premiere LEED for Homes service provider in Illinois toll free at 888-LEED-AP-H (888-533-3274).

2 replies
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