Give up or get tougher? The two major interest groups sparring over a potential U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) benchmark for wood-certification schemes are backing much different ideas now that USGBC has failed to approve a proposed standard that wood-certification groups would have to achieve to have their certifications qualify for LEED points.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), one of several groups that complained the proposed benchmark went too far, is now urging builders to forget trying to get LEED points for certified wood and instead use SFI-certified products in LEED buildings "to demonstrate their pride and support for North American forests, communities, and jobs."

Meanwhile, the U.S. branch of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which had argued the USGBC proposal would be "a big step backwards for the green building movement," is calling for USGBC to issue a revised benchmark. The revision would close "a few unintended loopholes," says FSC's U.S. chapter president, Corey Brinkema. Brinkema also argues that FSC standards should be regarded "as the floor rather than the ceiling" for wood certification.

The USGBC's proposed benchmark was backed by 55% of a special USGBC consensus group that voted on the proposal late last year, but a two-thirds majority was needed for the measure to become part of LEED.

Currently, wood certified by FSC is the only kind of lumber eligible for points in LEED's green building standards. SFI and other groups argue that their certifications are just as credible, and thus wood bearing their stamps also should qualify for LEED points.

For its part, the USGBC said following the vote that the next logical time for it to consider changing wood-certification rules is as part of an overall review of the entire LEED system. That's under way now.