16-1201 v3.1/Giant Panda Exhibit, Calgary Zoo/FSC Alternatives


Appeal To The LBC – FSC Lumber

Reason for appeal:

Our project is a small renovation to an existing building at the Calgary Zoo seeking Petal Certification under LBC 3.0. As a conservation society, the Zoo is always looking for ways to reduce its impact on the environment wherever possible. There are several reasons for which the universal requirement, in Imperative 13 – Responsible Industry, for all new wood to be FSC certified does not align with our project’s other sustainability goals. These are as follows.

Project specific issues regarding FSC lumber:

  • Due to the size of the project and the unique nature of the zoo, the project requires small quantities of a variety of lumber sizes. Many wood items needed are specialty or custom products.
  • Specialty wood products such as architectural logs are largely unavailable in FSC certified products.
  • The project location is in close proximity to mills and forests located in Alberta and British Columbia. While some of these mills are FSC certified, market realities prohibit us from sourcing material from these sites due to the small quantities desired. Thus we have been forced to look further abroad to source our FSC lumber.
  • FSC lumber presents a large cost burden upon the client. FSC lumber is a 2.14 times more expensive compared to regular lumber. [9]
  • Sourcing FSC plywood is nearly triple the cost, when compared to non-certified plywood.
  • Local mills can provide economically competitive lumber, while also reducing the carbon footprint that comes from transportation (see below). These mills are not FSC certified but still must comply with strict national standards.

Carbon impact of sourcing FSC wood:

  • The following chart will review the carbon impact for shipping wood products from various sources.
  • FSC lumber in full lifts has a low carbon impact due to transportation, and meets the FSC requirement, however due to the small quantity of wood needed for the project, excess material will be created.
  • FSC lumber in small quantities must travel further to a distributor who can separate lifts and ship smaller quantities to meet the demands of the project.
  • FSC plywood lifts must travel to the same distributor as the lumber to be separated into smaller quantities.
  • Non FSC-certified lumber does not produce excess material from full lift requirements, and does not travel long distances to reach site.
  • Additional Notes:
    • Average fuel efficiency of a tractor trailer is 39.5L/100km. [3]
    • The figures in the chart below only represent the emissions to ship material to site. It doesn’t represent the emissions that would be released to travel to the mill initially, or from the supplier back to the truck depot. Thus actual emissions would be up to double what is shown in the chart below.
Item Mill Name & Location Distributor Name & Location Supplier Name & Location Distance From Mill To Distributor (km) Distance From Distributor To Supplier (km) Distance From Supplier To Site (km) Total Distance (km) Carbon Emissions Per Truckload (kg CO2) [2]
FSC Lumber (full lifts) Canfor Elko Saw Mill9600 Cascade StreetElko, B.C. Shipped directly to D&E Lumber Yard Calgary D&E Lumber (Calgary Lumber Yard) 452 42 Ave. S.E. 318 0 5 323 341
FSC Lumber (small quantities) Canfor Elko Saw Mill9600 Cascade StreetElko, B.C. Certified Wood Products 700 6 ST. N.W.P.O. Box 895Maple Lake, Minnesota


D&E Lumber (Calgary Lumber Yard) 452 42 Ave. S.E. 1928 1847 5 3780 3991
FSC Plywood Roseburg Forest Products10700 Old Hi-Way 99 SouthDillard, Oregon 97432 Certified Wood Products 700 6 ST. N.W.P.O. Box 895Maple Lake, Minnesota


D&E Lumber (Calgary Lumber Yard) 452 42 Ave. S.E. 2969 1847 5 4821 5090
Non-certified Lumber (for comparison) Canfor Elko Saw Mill9600 Cascade StreetElko, B.C. Shipped directly to D&E Lumber Yard Calgary D&E Lumber (Calgary Lumber Yard) 452 42 Ave. S.E. 318 0 5 323 341

Minimum Excess:

  • FSC certified Canadian mills and suppliers cannot provide desired quantities of lumber and plywood. The small market for FSC lumber in Southern Alberta requires buyers to purchase full lifts of FSC products. However, the quantities of wood on this project are too small to fulfill the requirement of ordering full lifts.
  • Attempting to sell the excess FSC material if a full lift was ordered is not realistic in the current marketplace.
  • By using non FSC-certified wood, we can increase the utilization rate of the wood we purchase. The higher the utilization rate, the less wood would need to be purchased.
  • The project does not require large quantities of wood, and requires many special order items. This makes ordering full lifts of wood directly from the producer unfeasible as shown in the chart below:
Quantity (Boards) [8] Item [8] Standard Lift Size (Boards) [5] Minimum Excess (Boards) Percent Utilized
25 1x4-12' S4S Pine 384 359 6.5%
76 2x4-12' Spruce 294 218 25.9%
2 2x4-16' MCA Treated 294 292 0.7%
17 2x6-12' RGH Fir 189 172 9.0%
200 2x8-12' Hem Fir 147 94 68.0%
12 2x8-16' MCA Treated 147 135 8.2%
18 2x10-12' Hem Fir 117 99 15.4%
17 2x10-12' RGH Fir 117 100 14.5%
3 2x10-16' Hem Fir 117 114 2.6%
51 4x8-15/32” FSC Fir Ply 160 109 31.9%
12 4x8-15/32” FSC Treated Ply 160 148 7.5%
92 4x8-19/32” FSC Fir Ply 160 68 57.5%

FSC compared to alternate certifications:

  • Other certifications such as SFI or CSA were originally weaker certifications, however they have undergone many improvements to ensure that they are transparent and ensure strong sustainability practices.
  • The USGBC has recently included an alternative pathway to receive LEED credit for sustainable forestry. This allows alternate certifications such as SFI or PEFC lumber to be utilized in LEED projects and compete with FSC. [6]
  • By allowing alternate certifications, the USGBC upholds the spirit of social, economic and environmental responsibility in the forestry industry that was pioneered by the FSC program, while allowing for greater economic feasibility of sustainable practices. [7]
  • Due to how recent the inclusion of SFI lumber into the LEED program, the market has not yet adopted SFI lumber. SFI presents similar procurement issues as FSC.
  • Canadian lumber practices are recognized for their strict adherence to legal, ethical and sustainable harvesting. As well Canadian law ensures that social impacts of forestry are taken into consideration, especially the wellbeing of aboriginal groups. [1]
  • Canadian lumber standards ensure that forestry companies are audited for compliance to standards regarding sustainability. These federal standards are some of the strictest legal standards worldwide for forestry. [1]
  • While official chain of custody documents are not available for non-certified lumber, all boards and sheets are stamped at the mill, and travel directly to our supplier. This ensures illegally harvested lumber does not enter our supplies.

Imperative 12 Exceptions Pursued:

  • Intentional Harvest – Since the site is an existing building and exhibit, there is a lack of trees onsite which has limited our ability to pursue this alternative.
  • Underwater Salvaged Wood – Aqua Timber Inc., Triton Timber, Deep River Lumber were all contacted regarding their products. These companies were unable to provide would that would pass as structurally graded material, and or would not have appropriate size, species and quantities of logs based upon the project’s needs.
  • Urban Harvest – While not an official exception, urban harvested wood was also researched. Trimmed Line Tree Services was contacted regarding their product which is harvested by municipalities and milled locally by Trimmed Line. Trimmed Line could not provide graded wood, for dimensional wood products.


  • By strictly adhering to Imperative 13 – Responsible Industry, we are forced as a project to compromise on the intent of Imperatives 11 – Embodied Carbon Footprint and 13 – Living Economy Sourcing, as well as incur excessive costs upon the client. While Canadian lumber does not have the same level of certification as FSC, the Canadian forestry industry is the most highly regulated in the world when considering sustainable and ethical harvesting practices.[4]


[1] Canada's forest laws. (2016). Retrieved November 14, 2016, from http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/canada/laws/17497

[2] Carbon Emissions Calculator. (n.d.). Retrieved November 08, 2016, from http://www.freightmetrics.com.au/Calculators|Road/CarbonEmissions/tabid/103/Default.aspx

[3] Fuel Efficiency Benchmarking in Canada's Trucking Industry. (2016). Retrieved November 08, 2016, from http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/transportation/commercial-vehicles/reports/7607

[4] International Living Future Institute. (2014). Materials Petal Handbook (Living Building Challenge 3.0).

[5] J.H. Huscroft Ltd. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2016, from http://www.jhhuscroft.com/packaging.php

[6] Legal Wood (n.d.) Retrieved November 22, 2016, from


[7] Woodworth, E. (2016, April 6). USGBC ANNOUNCES NEW PATHWAY TO ENCOURAGE ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOREST MANAGEMENT IN LEED. Retrieved November 8, 2016, from http://www.sfiprogram.org/media-resources/news/usgbc-announces-new-pathway-in-leed/

[8] Quantities, based upon structural drawings.

[9] Quoted prices:  $560 MBF (regular), $1200 MBF (FSC) for a 2X4.requirements.


The lack of local sources of FSC is not sufficient to warrant a new exception. The team must explore other existing options, pushing the market in their region. Please explore local options for salvaged wood (not only underwater salvaged), wood from entities with pending FSC certification (I12-E2), invasive species of trees or trees infested with invasive species (I12-E3), donated surplus non-FSC wood (I12-E5), storm-felled wood (I12-E8), or the possibility of wood load sharing with other projects. 
For more information about sourcing wood for LBC projects, download the attached FSC Sourcing Guide (attached to your original post). More information about the Exceptions mentioned above can be found on pages 31 and 32 of the v3.1 Materials Petal Handbook (and also pages 30 and 31 of the v3.0 Materials Petal Handbook supplemented by the Dialogue). 

Post ID 6305

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