Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification

PEFC is the world's largest forest certification organisation

PEFC UK Response to LEED v5 Draft

Posted on May 22, 2024

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the world’s most widely used green building rating system. Introduced by the US Green Building Council in 1998, LEED certification provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings, which offer environmental, social and governance benefits.

Whilst the BREEAM rating system is most prominent in the UK, there have been over 400 projects that have used the LEED system.

LEED v5 is currently under development with the stated aim to promote solutions to align the built environment with critical imperatives including decarbonization, ecosystem conservation and restoration, equity, health, and resilience. However, having reviewed the document in detail with our colleagues at SFI, we have a number of concerns about the following sections of the draft:

  1. MR Credit: Optimized Building Products (OBP)

OBP is Included in the following rating systems:

  • New construction page 90
  • Core and Shell page 96
  • Interior Design + Construction: Commercial Interiors p.57


PEFC Comments

  1. a) Why is there no mention of PEFC?

PEFC  is the world’s largest sustainable forest management certification system and therefore the largest supplier of sustainable wood products to the construction sector. As PEFC has been accepted in the current LEED v4, it should be included in LEED 5, alongside SFI and FSC.

  1. b) Why aren’t structural timber building products included in this credit?

Considering the structure of a building makes up the vast majority of the timber used (e.g. sawn/regularised CLS, CLT, LVL, glulam, etc.), excluding it from being creditable under scheme does not seem justifiable.

  1. c) Why is FSC certified wood allocated more points than SFI under the Ecosystem Health and Social Health and Equity Optimized Product Impact Areas?

Both PEFC and SFI’s Sustainable Forest Management standards have demanding criteria for these areas. The principal of the PEFC scheme is to promote responsible practices in the forest and to ensure that wood and non-wood forest products are produced with respect for the highest ecological, social and ethical standards. Specific requirements for ecosystem and biodiversity management and worker’s rights based on the ILO Core Conventions (i.e.right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; the effective abolition of child labour; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation) are defined in the current PEFC Sustainable Forest Management Standard.

  1. d) Consistency of terminology – why “FSC Certified” but “SFI Chain of Custody”?

Both SFI and FSC are forest management certification schemes with a chain of custody element built in. For products sourced outside the US, PEFC will be the chain of custody certification scheme for SFI sourced timber, as well as for other approved forest management standards around the world (e.g. CSA, Responsible Wood, MTCC, UKWAS).


  1. MR Credit: Reduce Embodied Carbon

Found under rating systems: Building Design + Construction (BD+C): New Construction (p. 83) and Core and Shell (p. 89). (Option 3 is most relevant) Building, Design and Construction

PEFC Comments

There are no sustainable forest management/chain of custody requirements for structural wood building products set out in the chart.  This means that at LEED project could be built with wood from any country, species with no sustainable forest management/chain of custody requirements.

EPDS and Source Disclosures alone do not provide requirements, oversight, or assurances for responsible forest management practices yielding carbon emission reductions. Established forest management standards and certifications such as PEFC, SFI and FSC do just that.

PEFC Feedback

PEFC has used the feedback mechanism to provide the following recommendations:

  1. The following amendments should be made to the ‘MR Credit: Optimized Building Products (OBP)’ requirements of the ‘New Construction’, ‘Core and Shell’ and ‘Interior Design + Construction: Commercial Interiors’ sections of LEED v5.

– PEFC should be added a creditable scheme as is the case in the current v4;

– Structural timber products should be included as an Optimized Building Product and hence a creditable item;

– FSC, SFI, and when added, PEFC certified materials should be awarded an equal number of credits;

– FSC, SFI, and when added, PEFC should be described equally i.e. FSC Certified/SFI Certified/PEFC Certified.

  1. The following amendments should be made to the ‘MR Credit: Reduce Embodied Carbon’ requirements of the ‘New Construction’ and ‘Core and Shell’ sections of LEED v5.

– A requirement should be included to ensure that only structural timber products from certified sources as creditable.


We would encourage similar minded stakeholders to submit their own comments to LEED to try and help enact the necessary changes to the standard. The deadline for submissions for this initial consultation is Friday 24th May 2024.