Is "Green" Certification Worth It?

Cabinetmakers mull over the process and price tag involved in getting formal recognition as a "green" woodshop. January 13, 2009

We were recently quoted $29,000 to become FSC certified by one of the accredited agencies on the FSC website. In the past we had been told by various industry people we could expect to pay $3500, $5000, $10,000... pick a number. I do understand that the price quoted is based upon size of operation, number of facilities, annual revenue, etc.

I'm hoping to find another company similar to us in size and profile who has gone through this process to compare notes with. Our company has an annual revenue of around 20 million, produces architectural millwork in three facilities all in the same general location, two remote offices/showrooms within a 150 mile radius.

Knowing the general specifics of the numbers involved, can anyone comment if the $29,000 quoted is standard, proper, atypical, out of line? We are just looking for some type of warm and fuzzy before we pull the trigger on this. Any input would be appreciated as getting clear answers out of either FSC or their certification agencies is more than difficult.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor J:
Jeez! I've no clue but it sure sounds like they want an awful lot of "green" just to help save a little bit of "green." What a racket.

From contributor O:
I never heard of FSC before now. My question is, what does an architectural millwork company have to do with practicing forestry " an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way?"

Aside from that, it would seem to me that you can advertise your millwork is made from FSC certified products as long as you can document that your raw materials are FSC certified. This sounds like a racket to me, too. Do you have a customer who's requiring your product or company to be FSC certified?

From the original questioner:
FSC governs all facets of the wood industry. People do think that it's primarily forestry, but it is indeed the whole chain from forestry to the end manufacturer and all points in between. To work on LEEDs projects, you have to be FSC certified. To furnish FSC materials and represent them as such, you have to be FSC certified as a manufacturer to maintain chain of custody. It all has to do with you as a manufacturer taking certified material from an accredited source, breaking open the package, modifying it into another product to sell it to the end user. Unless you are CoC certified you cannot sell the products as such nor can the end user you sell it to achieve LEEDs points on their project.

I have actually gotten far more cooperation with Green Build Initiative folks that oversee LEEDs than I have with FSC. The red tape seems to be endless. Pity, considering this will likely be the road we all have to travel at some point. Three years ago we would see 2-4 LEED certified projects in any given year. We now see that many in a quarter.

From contributor W:
We have looked at FSC certification for our (sideline) milling operation in Mendocino, CA. We have talked with many people about this and it just seems like there's not the bang for the buck. We are working "green" and will continue to do so, but to get the certification just doesn't seem worth it. We were quoted $5000 for our small operation to get set up, and an annual fee of ???.

There seem to be two major certifiers - FSC, which has various sub certifiers, and ATFS, the Tree Farm certifier. We were early adopters of sustainable practices, so our California redwood tree farm is certified under ATFS. That doesn't seem to make a dang bit of difference regarding selling price of our wood products, however.