RCA Newsletter - July 2001 

LEAD STORY: EU's "Green" Consumption Proposals Opposed by American Companies

FEATURE STORY: Progress Made in Greening Houses

FEATURE STORY #2: Certification Under Heavy Scrutiny

a) New Green Building in California
b) 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

green campuses
MA buy recycled

eco-industrial park
building codes
green building exhibit


EU's "Green" Consumption Proposals Opposed by American Companies

The Commission of the European Communities published its Green Paper on Integrated Product Policy on February 7, 2001 (see the "pdf" file at ). The Green Paper proposed a strategy to develop the market for greener products -- ones that use fewer resources, have lower impacts on the environment and reduce waste generation. Some of the proposed strategies include adopting the "polluter pays principle" by charging a lower tax on products that are eco-labeled, developing manufacturer "take back" requirements for product disposal, supporting and expanding eco-labels, driving "green" products acceptance using government purchasing power (termed public procurement in the report), etc. The Commission has been gathering comments since the publication of the document.

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.

Progress Made in Greening Houses

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 . For information about other government green building programs, see RCA's government purchasing page at (scroll down).

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.

Certification Under Heavy Scrutiny

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 and .


a) New Green Building in California
The Community Environmental Council (CEC) in Santa Barbara, California is opening a new Watershed Resource Center in August 2001 which uses the latest "green" building techniques, according to the article, "New Center Constructed as Model Green Building" in CEC's Spring 2001 newsletter Gildea Review. The project includes a maple gym floor that was recovered from a remodeling project. (For more information about CEC, see . For a list of links on "green" building, see RCA's construction resources page at http://www.rca-info.org/constrlnk.html.)

b) Virgin Wood Alternatives Pursued for Building Products
A June 18, 2001 Reuters article by Sharman Esarey, "Farmers Find New Uses for Their Depressed Products" reviews developments in industrial uses for agricultural crops, including the potential to use coffee, sugar and grains in construction products. Meanwhile Collins Products LLC has achieved Green Cross certification from Scientific Certification Systems, Inc., (SCS) for its 100 percent post-industrial waste recycled particleboard, according to Environmental Building News' June 2001 article, "Recycled Content Certified in Collins Particleboard." And, Louisiana-Pacific Corp. (LP) has stated that it has also received SCS certification for the recycled and/or recovered fiber content in its particleboard and medium density fiberboard products, according to "LP Gets Recycling Certification" in Recycled Paper News, June 2001.

c) Kinko's Recognizes its "Green" Branches
Kinko's recognized three of its branches for their environmental commitment, according to "Kinko's Gives Environmental Awards to Branches" in Recycled Paper News, June 2001. Kinko's stated that its environmental measures include stocking post-consumer paper at no additional cost, switching to 10 percent post-consumer paper in its full-service production area, making additional recycled and tree free papers available, providing a discount for double-sided copies to encourage paper conservation and recycling its paper and cardboard. For more information, see the Kinko's website's environmental section at .

d) Catalog Company Uses Recycled Paper
The Alliance for Environmental Innovation partnered with Norm Thompson Outfitters -- a Portland, Oregon based retailer -- to show that a switch to more environmentally preferable paper is environmentally desirable and economically feasible, according to the July 2001 issue of the GreenBusiness Letter's article "Pressing Magazines and Catalogs for a New Paper Standard." (A four-page summary of Norm Thompson's effort can be viewed at .) Norm Thompson has switched its Solutions catalog (and two other catalogs) to 10 percent post-consumer recycled paper. While it could have selected a similarly priced recycled paper, the company chose a slightly more expensive brand. However, these costs were offset through production efficiencies. According to a July 20 Waste News article, "Catalog Retailer Urges Industry to Band Together, Use Recycled-content Paper," Norm Thompson -- which mails 75 million catalogs per year -- is the first major cataloger to use recycled paper. The catalog industry as a whole consumes 3.5 million tons of paper. (For a factsheet on using less wood for publishers, check out .)

e) Wood Promoted as Renewable Fuel
The July 2001 CADDET Renewable Energy Newsletter (see http://www.caddet-re.org) ran an article titled, "Wood Pellets Offer a Competitive Energy Option in Sweeden." The article discusses the wide use of wood pellets for fuel in Sweeden -- production has reached 550,000 tons per year of pellets from 25 plants. The wood pellets are produced by compressing biomass, often by-products from the sawing industry and "forest residues" under high pressure into "fuel sticks."

f) Alternative Plant Studied for Paper
The Arizona Daily Star reported on July 6, 2001 in "Miracle Plant Could Change Paper Industry" by Thomas Stauffer that University of Arizona scientists are studying an alternative crop for Arizona's farmers. Because the Hesperaloe funifera plant, being grown on two experimental plots, has the appropriate fiber length and width, it is seen as a potential for paper making.

g) Ski Resorts Look to Increase Recycling and Reduce Waste
The National Ski Areas Association released its first "Sustainable Slopes Annual Report" which called for resorts to improve waste reduction, recycling and reuse efforts, according to the July 23, 2001 Waste News article, "Ski Resorts Push to Reduce Waste, Boost Recycling and Reuse."

h) Solar Power Reduces Wood for Fuel Use
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on July 26, 2001 about one village's use of solar ovens in Chile where firewood is the source of one-fifth of the country's energy in "Cooking with the Sun Chilean Village's Experiment with Solar Ovens Offers Alternative to Widespread Deforestation" by Casey Woods. Native forests provide 60 percent of Chile's wood used for fuel with 132,900 acres of forest destroyed annually. After Villaseca residents learned about the solar ovens through a University of Chile experiment, the village women began raising money to build their own ovens. As a result, the village has become one of the only areas where virtually all of the 300 residents use solar ovens.

i) Wisconsin Companies Reuse Wood
In Business magazine, Summer 2001 ran an article, "Wisconsin Companies Turn Wood Wastes Into Revenues" by Katie Kaluzynski, describing innovative companies such as Glenville Timberwrights. The design-build firm uses reclaimed timbers from old industrial buildings to build new timber frame houses, and uses cut-offs from remilling operations for stairs, railings, flooring, baseboard and trim.


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 bamato@bsu.edu.

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 .


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 rbakke@stopwaste.org.

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 . The results will be published in the January 2002 issue of the International Conference of Building Officials' magazine, Building Standards.

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, gacker@ci.portland.or.us.