Green building has a major role to play in mitigating climate change. A study produced by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, which evaluated the impact of North American buildings and their contribution to climate change, found that commercial and residential buildings in Canada and the United States are responsible for 20 and 40 percent of the primary energy consumption, respectively. Construction and insulation of environmentally-sound buildings, which include using wood, can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of buildings. The United States Green Building Council estimates that green building, on average, currently reduces energy use by 30 percent, carbon emission by 35 percent, and generates cost savings of 50 to 90 percent (more information available here).
Wood products require considerably less energy to produce than competitive construction materials such as plastic, metals or concrete. Extraction costs for wood such as logging and transportation are less than costs associated with mining for metals such as iron and aluminum. Recent comparisons show that the production of steel and concrete as building material requires up to two times more energy than wood-based products. Wood is also a natural insulator for temperature and sound. Fire retardant-treated wood-based insulation is proving to be more economical, and more environmentally friendly than fiberglass or polystyrene. Green building systems employ sustainably produced wood to construct new and renovate existing buildings. Wood-framed housing is gaining market share in Europe as a result of the many environmental and economical advantages of wood .
Certified forest area reached 320 million hectares worldwide in May 2008. An overwhelming majority of certified forests and products are in the UNECE region. Green building initiatives generate further growth by requiring or encouraging certified wood products.
The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC) together with two schemes endorsed by it, namely the Canadian Standards Association Sustainable Forest Management Program (CSA) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), cover 64.2 per cent of the certified forest area. Regarding chain-of-custody, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was the dominant scheme with a 68.8 percent share of the 12 604 chain-of-custody certificates issued.