Submitted: The Two Sides Team January 31, 2014
Important trends and milestones anticipated.
Dovetail Partners Inc.
January 6, 2014
Dovetail Partners, a Minneapolis-based environmental think tank, offers predictions about what to expect and what to watch for in 2014.
"This next year is going to be another big one for the environment," predicts Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director for Dovetail Partners. "With expected developments in certification, energy policy, and green building, we are excited about what the next 12 months hold."
In 2014, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is expected to continue development of their controversial International Generic Indicators (IGI) in spite of major concerns with the process voiced by FSC certificate holders and staff. "Although FSC International has been under pressure to harmonize standards globally there are legitimate reasons for the current variations that will be extremely difficult to address" comments Jeff Howe, President of Dovetail Partners. "They risk creating a complex compromise that makes everyone equally unhappy."
Also, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) will complete their 5-year standards review process in 2014 and the potential impacts and proposed changes could be significant. "The last time they reviewed it they added new principles and restructured the standard," noted Fernholz. "SFI doesn't appear afraid to throw the ball up in the air and consider any kind of change."
On the energy policy front, announcements from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on carbon, policy efforts to support thermal biomass energy, and renewable energy initiatives in the E.U. are all on the radar screen in the new year.
"When it comes to the environment, one of the most important drivers of change is energy policy," says Jim Bowyer, Responsible Materials Program Director for Dovetail Partners. "The actions that are taken regarding energy efficiency, consumption, and sourcing have ripple effects throughout the economy, communities, and the environment. In 2014, we hope to see more progress on recognizing the importance of energy conservation and diversified, renewable energy."
Also in the top three, green building continues its evolution from niche market to mainstream as more programs are recognized and as cities and states adopt the International Green Construction Code (IgCC). Considerable research activity is also directed toward significantly increasing building performance and energy efficiency. Changes in how homes and buildings are constructed have both immediate and long-term impacts for the environment. "It's time to leverage the more than 50 years of experimenting with green building and make it standard practice. Adoption of green practices into local building codes can be the fastest way to implement significant change," says Howe.
"There are so many things on the horizon that have the potential to improve our environmental performance, innovations in material technologies, recycling and recovery advancements, breakthroughs in energy efficiency, lower-impact production systems, etc, etc," says Fernholz. "The future is now, the future is bright, and these are interesting times."