How does the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®) Chain-of-Custody (COC) break?
Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification requires that the components used in the Material and Resources (MR) section comply with FSC® COC regulations. One credit is available for the use of FSC® certified wood products in the MR section under MR 7- Certified wood.
New 2008 LEED regulations specify that all FSC® certified wood products must be provided to a project contractor or sub-contractor from a vendor who holds a current FSC® Chain-of-Custody (COC) certificate and can provide their COC number on the final invoice. It is possible for anyone to purchase FSC® material, but if the purchasing or manufacturing company does not hold a valid FSC® COC certificate, the chain is broken and the product no longer qualifies for LEED MR 7 credit.
According to the FSC® International website, companies that need to be FSC® COC certified include any operation making, changing, trading, re-labeling or repackaging FSC®-certified products needs to be COC certified in order to use the FSC® trademarks and to enable its customers to make an FSC® claim about these products.
By the FSC®’s definition, a company or customer (end user) cannot make any claims (i.e. – consider the dollar value of a product for MR 7 calculations) unless the final point of sale was an FSC® COC certificate holder. The letters ‘FSC®’, and the FSC® ‘Tree and Checkmark’ trademark are both copy-write protected and only companies holding a valid COC certificate have the right to claim their products are FSC® certified, contain FSC® content, or can be used as FSC® in the LEED MR 7 calculation.
In the past, some non-FSC® COC certified companies have purchased FSC® raw materials, or, subcontracted services from vendors that are FSC® certified, and told LEED project teams that they can receive credit towards their MR 7 calculations. According to the new LEED regulations, this practice is unacceptable; wood product suppliers must provide FSC® COC certification from all of their vendors, sub contractors, and suppliers in order to achieve FSC® COC product certification for LEED program credits. Companies that do not hold a valid FSC® COC certificate do not have a COC code and cannot use the letters ‘FSC®’ on their invoices without violating copy-write laws.
How does breaking the Chain-of-Custody impact the bottom line?
If a product that is not FSC® certified makes it all the way to installation on a project, it is the owner of the building who will suffer the most. To qualify for LEED certification, a project’s potential LEED credits are reviewed to ensure compliance with LEED standards. Upon discovering wood material is not provided by an FSC® COC certified supplier or manufacturer, the LEED review team may disqualify the product from the total LEED point potential. Just a few points can make the difference between a Silver, a Gold or even a Platinum category LEED project. This in turn can mean the loss of incentives provided by local, State, and Federal governments. Ensuring that all manufacturers and suppliers hold a valid FSC® COC certificate provides assurance to your clients that they will receive the FSC® COC LEED credit.