The US Green Building Council has moved to close a loophole in the LEED system that could see projects gain a credit for wood use but still have illegally logged wood in the building.

“Today, it is possible to achieve the LEED wood credit and still have illegal wood in a LEED certified project,” USGBC chief product officer Scot Horst said. “This is because LEED projects receive credit for a percentage of the wood on the project, rather than on all wood used.”

With this in mind, the USGBC has announced a new LEED pilot alternative compliance pathway designed to help eliminate illegally sourced woods from the building supply chain. The new ACP credit builds on infrastructure that has been built around responsible wood sourcing and chain of custody to test an approach to prerequisite requirements, which the USGBC says could be extended to other building materials.

A statement from the USGBC said the organisation was leveraging LEED’s “unparalleled market power by focusing attention on the significant need for more comprehensive and effective legality verification of building products”.

“The pilot ACP is designed to address a critical piece of the supply chain and reward project teams who proactively verify that the wood they are using is legal.”

Chief executive and founding chair of the USGBC Rick Fedrizzi said he wanted LEED to be a significant driver for stopping illegal logging.

“As we have begun looking at approaches to incentives responsible sourcing of all materials that go into our buildings – such as concrete, steel, copper and other materials – we recognise the need to address both the top – rewarding the best — as well as the bottom by eliminating unacceptable practices,” he said.

“With the pilot ACP, we are increasing the scope of LEED related to wood with an eye toward possibly applying what we learn to other industries.”