The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the organization responsible for developing LEED green building certification, said it will consider two proposed changes to the LEED rating system. Specifically, the council will consider revisions to the LEED wood and bio-based materials credit processes. USGBC said the move is in response to "escalating debate" over wood and wood-related LEED certification.

"As a board, we're committed to decisive action and continuous improvement," said Kevin Hydes, USGBC's chairman. "To that end, we look to USGBC's consensus processes and the wisdom of its membership to swiftly reach a conclusion that both supports the intent of LEED's Materials & Resources credits to foster a sustainable materials economy and keeps the market moving."

As the first step of the revision process, the USGBC's board of directors has drawn up a white paper entitled "Dealing with Wood and Bio-Based Materials in the LEED Rating System." The recommendations in this paper will be deliberated over by the LEED Steering Committee, its Materials & Resources Technical Advisory Group (TAG), and Wood sub-TAG.

One proposed revision focuses on changing the Materials and Resources Credit 6 from a rapidly renewable credit into a bio-based credit. This would pave the way for certified wood from the Forest Stewardship Council, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Canadian Standards Association to receive bio-based credits, the USGBC says.

The second revision would be to the Materials and Resources Credit 7, which would change from a wood-only credit to one that recognizes certified bio-based materials. The USGBC said that under the revision, emerging certification systems for bamboo, cork and agricultural products would be eligible for the credits.

As the revision process continues, finalized proposals will be available for public comment and will be balloted before USGBC's full membership, the organization says. In addition, a detailed timeline of events is slated to be published on the USGBC website no later than June.