U.S. Forest Service And USDA Promote Wood For Green Building

March 30, 2011

cut logs

Photo by Valentin Casarsa.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Announces New Strategy To Select Wood, Save Working Forests

Arlington, Va. — In a decisive move to strengthen America’s green building standards and protect working forests, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today unveiled a new U.S. Forest Service and USDA strategy to promote the use of wood as a green building material.

“Wood has a vital role to play in meeting the growing demand for green building materials,” said Secretary Vilsack in a formal announcement. “Forest Service studies show that wood used as a green building material compares favorably to competing materials.”

To implement the new strategy, the Forest Service will, in keeping with its commitment to certified green building standards: preferentially select wood in new building construction; actively look for opportunities to demonstrate the innovative use of wood as a green building material for all new structures of 10,000 square feet or more; and explore new ways to enhance research on green building materials. The USDA will also make a commitment to using wood and other agricultural products as it fulfills President Obama’s executive order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.

“We laud Secretary Vilsack, the administration, the Forest Service and the USDA for their leadership on the critical value of sustainably-produced wood as a green building material,” remarks Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. Without sound economics, our forest environment will gradually disappear, Selzer notes, because more than half of America’s forests are privately owned by families, businesses and nonprofits. “These forests may well be lost, a parcel at a time, as economics compel private owners to sell land to developers, investors and others. To save our private forests, we must keep them working – and that means keeping markets for forest products viable.”

Already, America loses nearly 1.5 million acres of working forest each year, and the forests that remain get more and more fragmented as haphazard development and land conversion occurs. This trend threatens our vital forest infrastructure, which provides us with clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and more than one million jobs nationwide.

Coast to coast, The Conservation Fund has saved more than a million acres of forestland in partnership with landowners, organizations and government agencies. Building on this conservation legacy, the Fund manages the largest nonprofit-owned sustainable working forest in California. With support from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities, the Fund also recently launched ShadeFund, which provides small loans to green entrepreneurs across America. The Conservation Fund is the only American non-profit with a dual charter for both environmental protection and economic development.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.