FSC Certified Exotic Hardwoods and Veneers

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lumber stackAs impossible as it might be, I will try to describe in terms that hopefully even I can understand just what FSC Certified and LEEDS mean. Both of these are intertwined so when you talk about one you talk about the other as well. What a horrible start to try to explain what these entities are. And I apologize ahead of time for what you are about to read. 

And Now For a Lesson on FSC Certification

Forest certification is a process that assures consumers that the wood products they buy were grown and harvested in a way that protects forests for the long term. Certifiers assess the on-the-ground forest practices of a given operation against a strict set of environmental and social criteria. Operations that meet those standards are allowed to identify their products as originating from a well-managed forest. The certifier also tracks the “chain of custody” of the certified wood to ensure that it is kept separate from the non-certified material at each stage of processing and distribution from forest to end user.

Are we having fun yet? The first thing that popped into my tiny head was how many “Certifiers” are there?  You can check out the FSC organization’s website to try to get an idea. I continue.

FSC logo on woodFSC stands for The Forest Stewardship Council and is a not-for-profit organization that accredits certifiers whose methods conform to its internationally recognized principles and criteria.  This is meant to provide a consistent and credible framework for independent certification efforts worldwide.

How Credible is FSC Certification?

Now I understand that in the last twenty years we have become increasingly conscious about ecology and our planet. Deforestation in third world countries is still an ongoing problem. But with economies the way they are, some families have just two choices – fell a tree and see what it can bring at market, or starve.  Are we going to tell them they have to choose option number 1? I don’t think so.

Here are Two High-Integrity Suppliers of FSC-Certified Hardwood

In the northeastern United States, the Danzer Group has 48 thousand acres of forest. It’s much easier to see and track what they do in terms of forestry management than it is to do so with operations in El Salvador or Ghana. The Danzer Group are an absolute leader in forestry management and have been accredited worldwide. Out here on the west coast in southern California, their subsidiary is David R. Webb, run by Mike Barajas.  Based on my experience day in and day out in the cabinetry business, I can tell you there is no better man on the west coast to help you with FSC Certified exotic veneers.  Wait, I forgot Peter Ice of Phillips-Ice

He’s in Washington, but it’s still west coast. He’s a very knowledgeable guy out west, and can work with not only the veneer you’re buying but the machinery that presses it to the substrate. Plus, he likes martinis so that makes him OK in my book.

And Now For a Lesson on LEEDS

After all this palaver I haven’t even gotten to LEEDS and what that label means.  LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Building Council (USGBC) in March of 2000, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions.

The LEED rating system gives points to a project for using green materials and design features.

Here’s an example of how this works….

Sycamore House, a LEED Platinum-Certified Home

Sycamore HouseDesigned as the home of firm Principal Michael Kovac, Sycamore House is part showpiece, part testing ground for the firm’s ongoing research into sustainable architecture, and Kovac’s design philosophy. The home uses both green materials and environmentally favorable systems and is one of the first residences in California awarded a LEED Platinum Certification.

Check out the Sycamore House page on the Kovac website.  Very cool.

So what’s all this mean for you?  Knowledge, my friend, and a little opinionated advice: If you want to make certain that the hardwood you’re using is FSC certified, look for both the certification and the origin.  USA-grown woods have the best chance of being what they say they are.

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About Brad

Brad Baker is Vice President of Operations at Miller Woodworking in the Los Angeles area, designers and builders of custom cabinetry and interior millwork for the rich and famous. They make the impossible, and their work has been featured in fancy schmantsy architectural glossies more than a few times. All that high end creative stuff aside, he maintains a strong spiritual belief that the real sign of a good woodworker is all 10 fingers. He and his wife Ann Baker co-write for HomeFixated. Ann is CEO of Publicity Pros, a firm that provides “All Things Publicity” services and training for small businesses. She’s a hopeless nerd who revels in anything and everything having to do with the technology of attracting attention. And, no joke, she loves to bake.

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