Green building reaches new heights, from homes to skyscrapers

Michael Green Architecture.
© Michael Green Architecture.

While homeowners are increasingly reaching for sustainable wood materials in building their homes, so are leading commercial architects and contractors as they imagine the buildings of the future.

As we recently reported in our article about green building gaining ground in homebuilding, the same movement is happening in commercial building design, making its way into the urban mainstream. Ease of use, strength, beauty, and environmental benefits are just a few of the reasons that responsibly sourced wood materials are starting become the norm.

These environmental benefits depend upon whether the forest that the wood comes from is responsibly managed. Wood that is certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standard offers a proof point that the forest has been managed for multiple environmental, social and economic values—ensuring the forest’s productivity today and sustainability tomorrow.

A recognized thought leader in the green building movement, Michael Green who is Principal Architect at Michael Green Architecture, shared his vision for the future of tall wood buildings as a featured speaker at the 2015 SFI Annual Conference. In his presentation, he first demonstrated that the engineering capabilities and wood products already exist to re-create even the Empire State building, at 102 stories, out of wood. Wood is both strong and safe and, when responsibly sourced, actually helps forests thrive.

“Innovation is going to take us to a new world,” Green said. “We are starting to build the structures necessary to further the research, further the innovation at the forestry level and all the way through to the building level to make sure that if I choose to use wood, we’ll harvest more trees, we’ll plant more forests, we’ll manage the habitat better and we’ll ultimately increase the forest carbon.“

sfi label© SFI

Certification standards like SFI are recognized by many leading green building rating systems. In fact, one of the world’s leading rating systems, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), recognizes SFI as an objective third-party verification methods of forests management. This recognition is important because many of the benefits wood building materials provide are dependent upon forests being responsibly managed, and without third-party certification, the environmental benefits cannot be verified or maintained.

Wood use in green building projects supports many other benefits of working forests, including clean air and water, biodiversity, habitat for wildlife and employment for local communities. Because of this, more and more buyers – including governments, businesses and individuals – are asking for wood products from responsible sources. SFI Program Participants supplying wood and paper products for green building initiatives are an integral part of this. Green building markets for forest products support forests and the communities that depend on them by increasing their economic value and encouraging the kind of sustainable management needed to secure their future.

To find out more about green building and sustainable sourcing, and how they help forests thrive, visit

Tags: Forestry


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