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|RCA Newsletter - July 2001|
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Commission of the European Communities published its Green Paper
on Integrated Product Policy on February 7, 2001 (see the "pdf" file at
In response, the EU Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce issued its position paper (see http://www.eucommittee.be/Pages/fspop.htm) which rejected several of the plan's proposals, including its recommendation to introduce lower sales tax rates on ecolabeled products -- a key element of the plan, according to the Environmental News Service July 11, 2001 article "U.S. Firms Reject European Tax Breaks for Green Products." Industry opposition could kill the proposal. Member companies of the EU Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce include AOL Time Warner, AT&T, Boeing, Disney, FedEx, GE, IBM, Kodak, Procter & Gamble, Reebok, as well as the largest oil companies and all three of the largest American auto makers. In addition to rejecting the "green" product tax breaks, the Committee also warned that the proposal's aim to "green" government purchasing could breach international trade agreements, namely the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) -- a "plurilateral" agreement of Annex 4 of the WTO Agreement.
On May 23, 2001, the City of Frisco, Texas became the first city in the
United States to require that every new home built incorporate green
building measures, according to "Frisco First: Codified Green Building
Program" in Environmental Building News, June 2001. Located 20 miles
north of Dallas, it is the fastest growing city in Texas with 3,000 new
homes to be built in 2001. One of the program's major areas is reducing
waste with mandatory recycling of wood and brick for all new homes. For
more information, see the program's website at
Conserving wood needs to be considered not only in the design and construction of new homes, but also at the end of their useful lifetimes. According to "Deconstruction Industry 'Demolishes' the Alternative" by David Biddle in the Summer 2001 issue of In Business magazine, a nonprofit organization, Our United Villages, is successfully deconstructing homes in the Portland area and beyond. It operates a used building materials store called Rebuilding Center and a deconstruction operation, DeConstruction Services (which increases the volume of materials for the store). Combined, the two operations have brought in approximately $1 million total between May 2000 and February 2001 -- far exceeding expectations. About 85 percent of the material from deconstructed houses is destined for reuse or recycling. Some of the wood materials recovered include lumber, flooring, siding, trim, moldings, plywood, chipwood, oriented strand board, doors, etc. And, the deconstruction is cost competitive with demolition (sometimes even cheaper).
Meanwhile, information about "green" homes continues to spread into the mainstream with the real estate industry beginning to take notice. Inman News, a source for real estate news, ran a feature titled, "Getting Greener: Realtors Can Help Home Buyers and the Environment by Thinking Green" by Julie Clairmont on July 12, 2001. The article states that home builders are encouraging the real estate industry to support "green" building initiatives. The article highlights the efforts of the Kitsap County Homebuilders Association in Washington to educate real estate licensees about issues such as advanced framing techniques which save money and also trees.
The UK's green housing efforts have also been in the news of late.
A green housing development in the UK on London's Greenwich Peninsula is
set to be a model for other developers, according to a June 15, 2001
Building Design article "London Development Exceeds Some Green Targets,
Misses Others." Although the project has fallen slightly short of some
of its environmental goals, it has exceeded others such as its goal to
reduce construction waste (which can be a large consumer of wood) by 20
percent. (For more on the project, see
Meanwhile, the London-based Center for Sustainable Construction of the Building Research Establishment (BRE) has established a national green building rating system for Great Britain called EcoHomes, according to Environmental Building News' review in its June 2001 newsletter.
In the market-based approach to save forests by reducing virgin wood consumption, a preference for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood products is often one part of the strategy. Supported by most major environmental organizations, the FSC has nonetheless come under scrutiny in recent months.
On July 11, 2001, six environmental organizations announced the launch of their new certification watchdog website, “goodwoodwatch.org,” according to the July 11, 2001 Environmental News Network article, "Keep the 'Eco' in Eco-Certification" by the David Suzuki Foundation. The groups, including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club of BC, the Raincoast Conservation Society, etc., stated that the public pressure was needed to ensure the highest standards in FSC certification in British Columbia.
Also on July 11, 2001, Rainforest Foundation and WALHI, Indonesia's largest national environmental organization, issued a press release titled, "Environmentalists Challenge 'Eco-Timber' Go-ahead for Logging In Endangered Habitat" calling for the revocation of FSC certification for a Sumatran rainforest that is home to the endangered Sumatran tiger.
Two scientific journals have recently featured articles examining certified forestry: "Timber Certification: Where Is the Voice of the Biologist?" by Elizabeth Bennet and Jalan Ridgeway in Conservation Biology, Volume 15, Issue 2, April 2001 and "Seeing the Wood From the Trees" by Nicole Freris and Klemens Laschefski in The Ecologist, Volume 31, Number 6, July/August 2001. And, Forest Conservation News Today issued a backgrounder titled, "Serious Concerns Regarding Forest Conservation" on July 14, 2001 by Glen Barry. Criticisms include continued dominance of industrial vs. communal logging operations under FSC certification and continued certification of tropical timber from primary forests.
Not all recent news has been critical. A July 5, 2001 article in the UK-based E-volve magazine by Stephanie Boyd titled, "An Emergent Species in Bolivian Forests" described FSC's success stories in Bolivia which has 10 FSC-accredited forestry concessions and 17 FSC "chain of custody" certified industrial wood shops (which guarantee that their products come from FSC forests).
While not a perfect system, the FSC is considered by many environmental
organizations to have the highest certification criteria when compared
to industry backed systems such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative
(SFI) scheme. In one of the most recent criticisms of the SFI, on July
10, 2001, an American Lands press release accused the SFI Certification
of "greenwashing" claims that Pacific Lumber's logging of old-growth is
sustainable. American Lands criticized Pacific Lumber's liquidation of
ancient forests and the harm it is causing to endangered species. More
information is available at
a) New Green Building in California
b) Virgin Wood Alternatives Pursued for Building Products
c) Kinko's Recognizes its "Green" Branches
d) Catalog Company Uses Recycled Paper
e) Wood Promoted as Renewable Fuel
f) Alternative Plant Studied for Paper
g) Ski Resorts Look to Increase Recycling and Reduce Waste
h) Solar Power Reduces Wood for Fuel Use
i) Wisconsin Companies Reuse Wood
CAMPAIGNS & EVENTS
On September 20, 2001 the "Greening of the Campus IV: Moving to the Mainstream" conference will take place in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center covering issues from daily management of the physical plant to "green" curriculum development. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second Nature is hosting regional conferences "Shaping a
Sustainable Future: Best Practices in Higher Education." The Southwest
regional workshop will take place from November 1-4, 2001 in Flagstaff,
AZ. The Northeast regional workshop will take place from October
31-November 3, 2002. For more information, see
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is holding its 7th Annual Buy
Recycled Conference on October 30, 2001. More information about the
conference should be available on-line soon at
The American Kenaf Society (AKS) will hold its 2001 conference in
Atlanta, Georgia from November 15 to 17. The conference will launch the
International Kenaf Development Board (IKDB). For more information, see
the AKS website at
RESOURCES & ANNOUNCEMENTS
The Alameda County Waste Management Authority and Recycling Board is creating a 21-acre eco-industrial park in the City of San Leandro, California. The park will house manufacturers and processors of value-added recycled and remanufactured products made of paper, wood, glass and other materials. For more information, contact Ms. Rory Bakke at the Alameda County Waste Management Authority at 510.614.1699 or via email at email@example.com.
The Development Center for Appropriate Technology (DCAT) in
collaboration with other organizations has developed a survey to
identify obstacles in building codes to "green" building. For more
information see the DCAT website at
Portland's Office of Sustainable Development in partnership with the Portland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is calling for entries for model "green" projects in the Cascadia region. The entries will be used to create a regional exhibit to complement the Architectural League of New York's Ten Shades of Green exhibition which is coming to the Ecotrust's Natural Capital Center in September. For more information, contact Greg Acker at 503.823.5431, firstname.lastname@example.org.