The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) is the world’s original, market-driven forest management certification, promoting responsible forest management and trade worldwide.
Around the world and here in the US, more and more builders and manufacturers are using FSC-certified wood. But why?
Read on to learn about FSC certification and the seven advantages of using FSC products.
What Is FSC?
The Forest Stewardship Council is a global non-profit, independent organization founded in 1993 to promote responsible forest management. To earn FSC certification, a forest must be managed in accordance with FSC’s forest management standards.
The world’s most reputable environmental organizations uniquely recognize FSC as the most trusted forest management certification, including the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy, and many other top environmental NGOs.
In significant part because of the unique support FSC enjoys from these organizations, FSC is also frequently preferred by commercial construction partners and local governments around the world. Given the rigor in the FSC system and standards, these stakeholders trust that FSC-certified products came from forests managed to keep them intact and healthy for the people and animals who depend on them.
Today, there are more than 207 million hectares of forests certified to the FSC standard, and 41,000+ forest-product manufacturers are FSC-certified in 90 countries — including the United States — and the global system is growing rapidly.
7 Advantages of FSC Certified Wood Products
Using FSC wood isn't just about doing what's right for the environment: Using FSC wood in construction not only demonstrates the strongest possible commitment to forests; it also offers several business benefits. Anyone thinking of “business-as-usual” wood (or a material other than wood) should think twice.
1. Insulation / Cost Savings
Thermal insulation is one of the most important features of a building material. Poor thermal insulation can make homes and buildings harder to keep warm in the winter and harder to keep cool in the summer.
Not only does that make them less comfortable to live or work in, but it means constantly taxing the air conditioning and heating systems in the building. That burden means higher energy bills and the constant use will also wear out these systems more quickly, requiring costly maintenance and repair.
Those high energy bills mean more money out of building owners’ pockets AND they also mean using up more energy and detracting from sustainability efforts — not a great look for your brand. Using a building material with poor thermal insulation will force you to pay again and again for it.
Fortunately, out of all of the major construction materials, wood has the best insulation properties. According to FSC, as an insulator, wood works "five times better than concrete, ten times better than brick and 350 times better than steel."
So through use of wood, owners can benefit financially for decades thereafter.
2. Positive Community Relationships
Use of FSC-certified wood products creates opportunities for businesses to talk to customers and the wider community about the responsible nature of their purchasing decisions.
Sustainable building is increasingly becoming the new normal. Consumers seek proof that the buildings in which they live and work were responsibly constructed - and the materials responsibly sourced. Using FSC-certified wood provides this proof.
When you purchase FSC-certified wood, you help stakeholders know the connection between the product they're enjoying and the process that brought it to them.
FSC-certified wood allows you to tell a story about your project that makes people feel good about both the quality of the project and the way in which it was created. Part of FSC's work is to rally consumers to make responsible choices in forest-based products, including getting them excited about environmental protection and about builders who choose FSC as part of a wider commitment to sustainability.
Plus, FSC releases its certification audit results to the public, showing their commitment to transparency and trustworthiness, and helping you show your commitment to sustainable practices.
3. Access to Green Building Projects
Green-minded consumers and builders aren’t the only buyer categories increasingly demanding FSC-certified wood. Government projects also increasingly include FSC as part of their sustainability requirements. That means that if a business wants to bid for such jobs, they must be FSC-certified and/or include FSC-certified wood in project specifications.
Plus, many clients have an expressed preference for FSC-certified wood, even if they don't absolutely require it. That means specifying and using FSC-certified wood can give builders a competitive edge in contract bidding.
4. Environmental Benefits
The FSC standard is designed to be climate-smart. It requires that more and older trees be left standing, which tends to increase carbon sequestration. It helps combat illegal logging and deforestation in key “high-conservation value” areas around the world that must remain as forests for the good of the planet's health. FSC standards also uniquely prohibit use of highly hazardous pesticides and herbicides, such as atrazine, which is known to cause reproductive harm in humans. FSC's standards also protect water quality and water-dependent wildlife by requiring larger riparian buffers.
On top of that, while every building material requires some energy to produce, wood requires less energy than any other building material. Sunlight, nutrients and water are all it takes for a tree to grow, and a growing tree stores CO2 in its wood at the same time.
By using this environmentally friendly wood, everyone can help raise the standard for environmental practices across the world.
5. A Beautiful Material to Build With
Along with being environmentally friendly and thermally efficient, wood is simply a beautiful material to work with. There's a reason that using wood for furniture, cabinets and flooring is so common.
Many people love the natural, beautiful look of wood construction, and fresh-looking wood interiors feel warm and comfortable. If your design calls for warmth and texture, FSC-certified wood is certain to fit the bill.
6. Stay Legal
Knowing where timber is coming from isn't just important for customers and the planet, it's important for the business that buys it. Governments around the world, including in the U.S. and Canada, have outlawed the use of illegally harvested and/or traded forest products.
Any given non-certified wood product is quite possibly illegally harvested, given that INTERPOL estimates that 15-30% of all global timber trade is illegal. Illegal trade can result in costly fines, even if businesses weren’t aware that products purchased were harvested illegally. While there is no silver bullet, FSC certification is an important way businesses can demonstrate “due care” when buying forest products.
7. Improve Your Brand — and Your Finances
Use of FSC-certified wood makes a powerful statement as to your dedication to the health and future of our planet. But green building is increasingly also driven by commercial factors. Building owners have recently reported seeing a median increase of 7 percent in the value of their green buildings compared to traditional buildings.
The Best Material Around
These are only some of the many benefits gained by specifying and using FSC-certified wood in building projects. Learn more about the benefits of using FSC certified wood, or find FSC-certified construction materials near you.