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December 14, 2011 | last updated December 15, 2011 3:40 pm

State green building changes irk group

A national environmental group is speaking out against Gov. Paul LePage's recent decision to expand the number of certification programs the state can use when selecting materials for new buildings, calling the move "greenwashing."

LePage last week signed an executive order expanding the standards of green building used for state construction to include other forest certification programs besides the Forest Stewardship Council program, according to a press release. The FSC program is administered through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and requires wood to be harvested in a sustainable way. The order allows state construction to use materials certified through Sustainable Forestry Initiative; Forest Stewardship Council; American Tree Farm System; and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Systems. "By requiring state building projects to use green materials under more certification programs, we are increasing the amount of Maine-produced wood available for public construction projects," said LePage in the release. "This will have positive benefits for Maine wood products producers and our forest industry workers."

However, the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement that exempting state construction from exclusive FSC standards "turns Maine's once-great green building program into business-as-usual," according to Sami Yassa, a forestry specialist with NRDC. The group called the certification programs now recognized by the state "forestry-industry efforts to greenwash destructive logging."

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