The nature of building in the 21st century is changing, and green building is no longer an alien term in the mainstream. More and more, the industry is making moves to include sustainability as an important part of the equation. One of the controls put in place is FSC certification. But, what does FSC Certified mean?
Guest writer Sean Burton is here to help unpack it for us.
Environmental responsibility is so much more than a popular buzz term. From increasing energy efficiency to developing alternative fuels to recycling and waste reduction, there is a growing trend toward sustainability. “Green” building is an important aspect of that movement, relying on timber sourced from certified, well-managed forests, ensuring the continued growth and health of the natural ecosystem.
What is FSC certified wood?
There are now more than fifty forestry certification programs worldwide; one of the most widely recognized is the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC. The FSC is supported by organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, among many others.
To achieve FSC certification, a forestry operation must be independently audited to ensure that it adheres to a rigorous set of standards. These standards dictate that the timber be harvested legally, responsibly, and safely, with respect to indigenous peoples’ rights while reducing waste and negative impacts on the surrounding environment.
What is the FSC chain of custody?
An FSC chain of custody certificate allows manufacturers to purchase responsibly; products can be traced back through the supply chain to legal and sustainable sources. In order to obtain a chain of custody certification, an operation specifies what products it wants to promote with the FSC trademark, pays a licence fee, and must submit to an inspection to ensure that certified and recycled materials are responsibly obtained and not combined with timber from controversial sources.
In addition to the FSC, forest managers and timber companies can achieve certification from the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, or the PEFC. The PEFC is more of an umbrella organization; it promotes several European standards, including workers’ rights and welfare.
Environmental concerns have had a significant impact on forest management, including how the timber is harvested and processed. Most operations are now largely mechanised, making harvesting more economical, efficient, safer, and environmentally sound.
Massive computer systems calculate processing – optimizing the harvest and reducing waste by-products. Harvesting systems are more efficient and versatile and are designed to lessen the negative impact on the ecosystem.
Timber transport can now be conducted via cable or aerial systems, or with low ground-pressure tractors and skidders, to lessen soil disturbance and compaction. Modern technology has advanced all areas of forest engineering and timber extraction, from building roads to streamlining processing.
What was once considered waste is now reused; milling leftovers are incorporated into wood composite materials and sawdust has become a preferred fuel source in European and North American power plants.
Timber from sustainable sources is a responsible, environmentally-friendly choice for construction. It is renewable, sustainable, and uses only solar energy to grow. Properly maintained, modern wood windows can last sixty years or longer, and offer the same insulation benefits as UPVC windows.
Choosing FSC or PEFC certified lumber for window or door construction demonstrates environmental leadership and responsibility, and contributes to the overall health of our world’s forests.
Sean Burton writes for George Barnsdale & Sons, who have been manufacturing quality timber windows and doors since 1884.