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Will Component Manufacturers Ever Use SFI Lumber In Trusses?

What is SFI?  Sustainable Forestry Initiative

According to their website: “SFI Inc. is an independent, nonprofit organization that is solely responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving the internationally recognized Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) program.”


“The SFI program’s unique fiber sourcing requirements promote responsible forest management on all suppliers’ lands. SFI chain-of-custody (COC) certification tracks the percentage of fiber from certified forests, certified sourcing and post-consumer recycled content. SFI on-product labels identify both certified sourcing and COC claims to help consumers make responsible purchasing decisions. SFI Inc. is governed by a three-chamber board of directors representing environmental, social and economic sectors equally.”

“The SFI program was launched in 1994 as one of the U.S. forest sector’s contributions to the vision of sustainable development established by the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Its original principles and implementation guidelines began in 1995, and it evolved as the first SFI national standard backed by third-party audits in 1998.”


As I began researching this topic, it became very clear that the SFI and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)  have been at odds for many years. You can see some additional information in a previous Gould Design post about the FSC –https://goulddesigninc.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/is-your-lumber-associated-with-the-fsc/.

The US Green Building Council adopted the FSC standards back in the mid-90’s for its LEED rating system.  At the time, FSC was really the only player in the game. Since that time there have been a number of other certification programs established including SFI, yet LEED rating tools only recognize FSC as a forest certification program that can be used to obtain LEED points for a project.  With the increase in LEED projects over the last decade, FSC will get the nod when it comes to forest certification projects.  This is certainly a hot topic and you can find opinions from all different points of view about why this situation exists.

Needless to say, SFI is doing all it can to change this fact and will continue to do so.

Facts and Figures:

  • Between them, the SFI and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) have 373 million acres of certified forests.
  • SFI alone has about 80% of the certified woodlands in North America.
  • In 2005, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), which itself is the world’s largest forest certifications system,recognized the SFI standard.
  • The SFI Program is supported by conservation groups such as Conservation International, American Bird Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, and the Conservation Fund (which serves on its Board)

Will these materials be used with trusses?

Personally, I have not come across a spec to use SFI lumber on a project nor had a customer ask for it.  I think this is primarily due to the aforementioned exclusion of SFI in obtaining LEED points.  If the USGBC does make a change to allow SFI in obtaining LEED points, we will begin to see SFI lumber show up on more projects.

Whether it’s FSC or SFI that’s being used, I still think that not everyone is sold on using these certified products.  In the case of trusses, I have found that there is an additional cost associated with certified lumber and many builders don’t want to add that to the project cost.  Additionally, the number of suppliers is smaller and availability can be an issue.

What has your experience been with SFI lumber?  Is this something you see in project specs?  Do your customers ask about using this type of lumber?

Look forward to hearing from you.

Bill Hoover – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.